Meetings tend to be the punchline of a lot of office-related humor. For example, the feeling that you have meetings to talk about other meetings, or that meetings are basically glorified emails. However, meetings can be a helpful, perhaps even necessary, part of company collaboration and interaction.
Leading an effective meeting can be a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be a pain point. Work on leading effective meetings by choosing the right time, creating an agenda, providing materials ahead of time, and leaving room for attendees to discuss the topic at hand.
Finding a good time to have a meeting that works with everyone’s schedule and preferences is virtually impossible. However, you can still work to make your meeting time one that takes advantage of low-productivity periods or avoids derailing positive work momentum. For instance, some studies show that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to send emails and get a response. If your employees rely on email correspondence as a weighted aspect of their duties, avoid those days that may be most important to their work flow. If leaving early for the weekend is a popular choice for your company on Friday afternoons, it might be best to avoid that slot as a meeting time. Timing does matter, and leading an effective meeting can be as simple as planning your meeting at a time that works for your company’s workflow.
Create an Agenda
An agenda will ensure your meeting stays on task and remains efficient. Setting a time limit for each action item can be extremely helpful in keeping a meeting from becoming derailed as well. Whether your meeting is focused on relaying information, decision-making, or promoting collaboration, an agenda can still be a helpful tool in battling meeting problems. Some meeting pain points can be distractions or unfocused talk causing a feeling of wasted time. An agenda can combat that problem and keep your meeting feeling crisp and useful.
Provide Materials Ahead of Time
If you want your meeting attendees to be participants in your meeting or provide discussion, you should be providing them with materials ahead of time. Giving employees sufficient time to read through your discussion points before the meeting will ensure they aren’t distracted from the meeting by reading materials during it, or trying to get their opinions and thoughts in order in time to participate. If you need to make a decision based on the participation of your meeting attendees, it’s helpful to give them time to offer their thoughts. Otherwise you run the risk of disengaging their attention or discouraging their participation.
Leave Time for Questions and Discussion
Even if your meeting’s agenda is purely informational, consider leaving extra time for discussion and questions. Though some types of discussion can derail the meeting, other types of brainstorming and open-forum talks can promote helpful collaboration between employees. If your meeting promotes more discussion than you thought or there are questions, you don’t want to risk running over time. Not allowing questions or discussion feels very unwelcoming to your attendees who are taking their time to attend. Openness is an important aspect in making meetings matter.
Not all meetings are going to be amazing collaborative sessions bringing about big ideas and innovation. However, some of them will be. In order to foster a positive meeting atmosphere where meetings are effective, it’s important to carefully plan ahead of time. This includes choosing the right time, making a plan, providing materials, and encouraging discussion.
She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader, and dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons creativity enough that she’ll get more than groans and eye rolls in response. To read more of her work, follow her on Twitter @faulknercreek