Meetings offer opportunity for collaboration, brainstorming, and communication.
They can push your business forward and spark faster, more efficient processes for your company.
But they can also be wasteful and time-consuming if not used properly.
Before anything else, to have a successful meeting, you must prepare well.
Which of these hacks do you currently use? And which ones do you need to add to your routine?
1) Set a focus objective – Rather than picking a general or broad topic for a meeting, identify a specific target objective. For example, your focus might be to decide what should be included in your customer welcome packet. Whatever your end goal is, set the objective in the form that can be answered with a yes/no question, such as ‘Confirm the contents of our customer welcome packet’. At the end of your meeting, you can ask the following question to determine if the meeting was successful: Did we confirm the contents of our customer welcome pack?
2) Prioritise details: If your focus requires a few steps and decision points, be sure to prioritise them ahead of time. Your time will be spent on what really matters, rather than derailing or discussing inconsequential details. When you have large pieces of work, break it down into the next 3 steps to make it easy to continue making progress.
3) Recap previous meetings’ actions: This doesn’t necessarily mean including 10 pages of notes from last month’s session. It simply means outlining the main bullet points or agreed upon actions. This helps refresh everyone’s memory—and loop people in who missed the last meeting. That way, everyone can focus on the present tasks at hand.
4) Plan how you’re going to keep everyone on track:Don’t wait until you’re sitting in the meeting when Fred trails off into a long story or Linda takes the meeting in a different direction. Have some phrases or words prepared to kindly bring the meeting back on course. After all, the most productive meetings keep moving forward.
5) Bring in the parking lot:When a great idea comes up—but isn’t quite on topic—have a place to write down that idea so it can be addressed at a later time. This is often called a parking lot, where brilliant ideas can be retrieved later (not now).
6) Have a timeline:In addition to key points and details to discuss, manage your meeting by the clock. If you want to, add time markers on your agenda. This ensures you aren’t spending too much time on one particular point. If you decide not to list it on your agenda, you’ll still know the timeframes and can keep people on-task and on-time.
7) Decide to be punctual: Instead of chit-chatting for the first 10-15 minutes of your meeting, be sure to have a crisp start. Do what’s culturally appropriate for your company, but don’t be afraid to push the envelope and get down to business.
8) Designate an action-taker:Forget the role note taker, this is now the action taker. Have your action taker record the actions from the meeting in the following simple format: what / when / who.
9) Don’t step into a meeting without an agenda: I’ve saved this one for last because it’s the most important: always, always prepare a meeting agenda. This helps develop a structure, focus, and timeline—giving you the greatest opportunity to make the best use of your time together. Plus, when your team gets into the rhythm of preparing an agenda for meetings, it’s a whole lot less likely that meetings are called without purpose.
Most teams that I train are stuck somewhere between too many meetings and meetings that don’t produce an outcome.
The good news is that with some simple tweaks and easy processes, you can rapidly improve the quality of your meetings.
This month, I’ve wrapped up my best advice for running effective meetings, together with my favourite meeting agenda template.
Take a stand against poorly managed meetings!
Apply this simple, yet effective meeting agenda to your meetings to:
If you have questions on this topic or any others, feel free to reach me by email or set up a free one-on-one consultation session, or drop me a comment below.
Thanks for sharing!