According to a report from Harvard Business Review, a whopping 71% of employees see meetings as a waste of time.
This is problematic, as meetings help a company’s decision-makers, and employees keep track of the company’s progress and butt heads to generate ideas and drive innovation. Meetings also help employees feel that they are part of the organisation and instil a sense of working towards a greater goal. Furthermore, it keeps everyone in the loop about everything going on in the company.
A meeting has to be effective if an organisation is to reap these benefits. Let’s look at how to run meetings that actually bring fruitful results.
What Does an Effective Meeting Look Like?
An effective meeting always ends with results. It can be a decision, a course of action to reach certain goals or new ideas generated by vigorous discussion. Alternatively, it can give every employee a common understanding of the current state of the company and the work that needs to be done. As such, it has to involve the people and teams relevant to the agenda and maintain an environment conducive to meaningful discussions.
Tips to Ensure a Productive and Effective Meeting
Another piece from the Harvard Business Review details some useful tips for focused and productive meetings. Here are the key takeaways:
- Prepare everything in advance.
Set the date and meeting schedules ahead. Create your agenda and presentations well before the schedule, and be sure to have a proper plan for the flow of your meeting. Also, be sure to prepare relevant questions to foster discussion and keep your participants engaged.
- Explain the meeting’s purpose.
Start by clearly explaining the purpose and goals of your meeting to your participants. This should prepare everyone involved and put them on the same page before you start laying out the agenda.
- Communicate properly.
As the host, be sure to guide the participants throughout the meeting, carefully leading them from one point to the next. Move forward as soon as you have ended your point, and avoid giving further, unnecessary explanations if no questions are asked. If you need to make segues for some reason, be sure to make it quick so as not to risk derailing the discussions. Likewise, be sure to guide speakers to stay on point and keep themselves on the right track.
- Be open to ideas and opinions.
Listen actively in dialogues during the meeting. Certain body language — like maintaining eye contact with the speaker and nodding as they present key points — is a great way to show you’re listening. Avoid interrupting the speaker, and be sure to reflect on the ideas presented before giving your two cents. In this way, you show everyone in the room that you see their ideas and opinions as valuable contributions to the discourse.
- Give credit where it is due.
Acknowledge the people and teams who have recently made valuable contributions to the company. Be concise and keep your encouragement and thanks within the reasonable time frame of 15 seconds or less.
- Conclude with actionable steps.
End the meeting by presenting the actions that your team needs to take moving forward. Assign roles, provide clear steps, and set a precise time frame for your post-meeting goals.
Meetings require the participation of certain employees, and they need to pause what they are doing to attend. Sitting down in the conference room takes away time they could have spent doing something more concrete for the company. As such, meetings need to make up for the lost productivity if it becomes anything other than an utter waste of time.