6 Ways to Make Meetings Effective

6 May 2016
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Make Meetings Effective

Love them or hate them, meetings are an important part of collaboration and delivering projects to completion. They’re essential for bringing people up to speed, solving problems and assembling teams around a project’s purpose.

The catch is, they’re usually drawn out way too long, with little direction and too many people in attendance – and ultimately result in a lot of wasted time and no clearer of a direction.

But the good news is, there are some clear steps to be taken to run effective and efficient meetings that teams will not only enjoy – but actually benefit from. Here are our favourite tips:

1. Identify and communicate clear objectives

This may see obvious enough, but it’s amazing how many people and companies still miss the mark on this. The person hosting the meeting needs to be very clear on what they intend to accomplish from it – and clearly communicate this to the attendees in the meeting invitation.

2. Be selective with the guest list

The last thing a meeting organizer (should) want to do is waste people’s time. Clearly consider who will benefit from, and contribute to the meeting, before sending out that invite. And remember, less is more; if you want to ensure efficiency, keep that invitation list as short as possible

3. Create (and stick to) a schedule

Take some time to plan out exactly what will be discussed in the meeting and allot a certain amount of time for each subject. It’s a good idea to email this out to the team members in advance and make that schedule visible throughout the meeting, so that everyone’s clear on what the priorities are. On the same note, be strict with the start and end times of your meetings, it shows team members that you’re serious about the agenda and that you respect their time.

4. Take meeting minutes

For every meeting, there should be someone assigned to taking down notes of what’s discussed, what the next steps are and who’s in charge of what task. Make this time count by documenting what was said and agreed upon.

5. Send Minutes and Action Items

Turn meetings into actionable items by sending the meeting minutes, and explicitly writing the responsibilities and tasks next to each person’s name. It’s a great way to make sure the points are implemented, to hold people accountable and keep everyone on the same (and right) page. If you’re using a project collaboration tool, create this document directly in the software and tag peoples names to notify them of their tasks.

6. Consider Standup meetings

For teams that are working on projects, especially those that require quick iterations, a daily 15-minute stand-up meeting is a great way to start the day by giving status updates. If you’re going to use this meeting method, keep a few things in mind:

  • Get a timer and make sure the meetings last no longer than the scheduled 15 minutes
  • Start the meeting at the same time everyday to create a rhythm for the team
  • Use this time to communicate on the status of the project – not to solve issues
  • Decide on an order for people to talk
  • Have one person take notes on a “progress” whiteboard that can be referred to later by team members.

Meetings require a little planning and preparation; and while it may seem like more work in the short run, these simple steps will go a long way to making meetings enjoyable, effective and efficient.

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