When meetings are conducted properly, they are smooth, focused and time-conscious. For you to execute a successful and efficient meeting you have to plan and execute it effectively. A good meeting should achieve the clearly outlined end result, whether a decision or action, in the minimum time, and contribute to the business. A bad meeting is an inconvenience that eats into people’s time, is unnecessary and/or often accomplishes very little.
In order to conduct an efficient meeting, consider our top six tips below:
- Invite only the people that matter
The surest way to ruin a meeting is to invite people who are not needed and have no interest in being there. When you invite the wrong people, it is harder to reach agreements and achieve results. The wrong participants hinder brainstorming because they are out of touch with the rest of the attendees and you will find yourself spending more time and energy restoring calm in the room than actually undertaking the tasks on the agenda. Always double check your potential attendees and make sure they are definitely the right people to participate.
- Stick to the agenda
One of the most common reasons for meetings overrunning or not achieving results is because related topics were brought up and discussed which may not have been necessary for that particular meeting and which ate into time needed for the main subject.
It is absolutely critical to have an agenda for every meeting, with topics clearly outlined so that the facilitator can help prevent people from getting side tracked by other important or related topics. Other things may come up, but the should be noted down and used as the basis for another discussion. Every point on the agenda needs to be covered properly within the time allowed, and only proper planning will allow that to happen. It is also very important that you, a professional and the leader of the meeting respects the agenda. If the attendees detect that you don’t, they will follow suit and you will have yourself to blame.
- Give attendees plenty of time
Notify people of the meeting time, date and venue well in advance to allow them to manage their calendars and work flow, and to ensure they are available, and follow up with a reminder a few days before.
Ensure the invitation includes the topic and subject areas to allow them to prepare, and to make for a more effective meeting. Give them plenty of time to gather together any invitation or to have a think of any ideas in advance of attending, and make it clear if you will be asking them to contribute anything, whether in terms of an idea, update, brainstorm or presentation. Make sure the agenda is shared and understood
- Start and end the meeting on time
When you are starting the meeting, make sure that the attendees know that time is a valuable resource. State that there is only enough time for the meeting. You should also hint that once the set time lapses, the meeting will be adjourned immediately. This should send a clear message that the meeting cannot run over.
This makes the rest of the attendants more careful with time management throughout the meeting.
- Give handouts at the right time
An efficient meeting needs the participation of both the attendees and the leader. Handouts can be a great tool for emphasizing the important points, they also help save time by allowing a presenter to skip the detailed statistics, dates, and background research.
Although it is worth bearing in mind that you should avoid handing out all the materials at the beginning of the meeting. People tend to rifle through handouts if they have them, which creates distraction. Always hand out such materials as the need arises or at the end.
- Make sure facilitators/speakers are prepared
The facilitator and/or additional speakers can cause the biggest threat to an efficient meeting, creating distraction and derailing the meeting. Some ramble on and bore people, others go off topic for hours, and some simply have poor time management. You can combat wayward speakers by letting them know the amount of time they have in advance, and reminding them just beforehand. Then just make sure you have agree a gentle reminder signal for when they have only a few minutes left to wrap up.
Despite our best efforts however, sometimes our planning and processes fall by the wayside due to time and resource constraints. If this sounds familiar, working with an outsourced PA service such as us may well be the answer. We can help plan the meeting for you, create and distribute agendas and handouts, be there to take the minutes and type these up and distribute them afterwards. If this sounds like it could be useful for you, then please contact us!