5 Tips for Productive Meetings: Minimize Frustration and Increase Engagement

5-tips-for-productive-meetings_minimize-frustration-and-increase-engagementHow many times have you sat in a meeting and thought, “Ugh!  Why am I here for yet another waste of my time?”  All too often we have meetings just for the sake of having meetings.  Here are 5 tips to help make sure your meetings are set up to be productive, minimize frustration, and increase engagement.

  1.  Send out the agenda ahead of time.  Employees are more likely to be engaged in the meeting if they know what will be discussed in the meeting.  This allows them to gather any information that might be needed, and gives employees time to think over what they need to contribute to the meeting.  Sending out the agenda ahead of time also allows people to let you know if they have another item that is urgent and needs to be added to the agenda.  This will allow you to control the time and focus of the meeting, and if necessary schedule a sidebar meeting if the issue is not relevant to the meeting.
  2. Set clear time expectations.  People do not feel like they are respected when their time is wasted.  So set a clear beginning and ending time for the meeting.  Many times it is also helpful to set clear time boundaries for each topic within the meeting.  This helps to prevent one person from hijacking the entire time.
  3. Create “Meetingless Mondays.”  Some days it feels like we are rushing from meeting to meeting and don’t have time to complete our “real” jobs.  Set aside one time period a week where the entire company agrees not to have meetings.  For some people, Monday works well because it allows them to really prepare for the week.  Find what works best for the majority of people within your organization.
  4. Find a space that works well for everyone.  If possible, make sure that your meeting space is comfortable and has access to all the materials that will be necessary for the meeting.  This could mean making sure there is a computer or projector available and functional for presentations, or making sure that there are enough comfortable seats available so people don’t feel like they are perching on the edge of a footstool at the table.  For some organizations, the space is digital.  If you are meeting over conference call or video conference, set expectations for engagement.  This means that participants know that there will be regular check ins during the call to make sure everyone is still there and understands the content.  Digital meetings are wonderful, and they come with their own issues that have to be addressed.  Many of those issues can be addressed by making sure that the technology is functioning and creating communication or checkin mechanisms, such as verbal checkin, and chat response features.
  5. Is it necessary?  Is the meeting truly necessary?  Do not have meetings with out a purpose.  Be very clear about what you need to accomplish in the meeting, and create a space on the agenda to outline the actions that need to be taken and who will take responsibility for those action items. If you do not have a purpose for a regularly scheduled meeting, cancel it.  If a person is invited to the meeting, but they are not a participant in any of the topics and not needed for the project, allow them to opt out of the meeting.


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