How many hours a month do you spend in meetings? Of that time, how many hours would you categorize as productive? If your answer isn’t close to most of that total, it may be time to re-evaluate your approach to meetings!
Meetings can take many forms–sit downs with clients, scheduled calls with suppliers, or more structured collaborations among employees. After being in countless good meetings, along with many that have missed the mark, I’ve learned how to make sure I leave each one more informed, motivated, and confident in the next steps.
We’ve all been there. You’re so busy with other tasks, unanticipated problems, and outside distractions, that you look up and realize you have a meeting in three minutes. There’s nothing quite like walking into a room without a clear idea of why you’re there or what you need to accomplish. If you’re leading the meeting, a general agenda can be a great asset for ensuring everyone is on the same page ahead of time. A quick email the day before (if not earlier) serves as a gentle reminder and ensures all attendees come as prepared as possible.
Time is one of our most limited resources. With everyone trying to make the most of every minute, it’s important to respect other people’s time and not extend a meeting unnecessarily. Small talk is a wonderful way to build rapport, but it should never come at the expense of discussing why you’re having the meeting in the first place. For a workplace setting, stand-up meetings can be a useful way to check-in and get quick updates on what’s happening. I also like to limit all possible distractions, especially cell phones. Being present at a meeting is more than just physically being there.
Talking through booking a trip or coming up with a new marketing strategy helps you get where you need to be. But once you get there, don’t be afraid to be decisive with setting a plan. If you’ve been actively listening or taking notes, it should be clear what the follow-up items should be. Coming up with action items helps everyone know what’s expected of them–whether it’s as simple as your client getting a form back to you within a certain timeframe or more elaborate, like moving ahead with an important advertising opportunity.
“Are we having fun yet?” That’s one of my favorite questions to ask the team at KHM Travel Group. It applies to our daily routines at work, but also to our meetings. For our company meetings, the coordinator for that month always ends the meeting with a joke. Although they are usually what many refer to as “dad jokes,” they accomplish their goal–making everyone smile as they return back to their desks…or head into the next meeting.