When not planned properly, meetings have a reputation for being ineffective and a poor use of employees’ time. According to Inc.com, 15% of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings, costing millions of dollars every year across the country’s businesses.

There are simple ways to clean up your meetings, keep them efficient, and increase their impact.

 

Define the Purpose

Defining not just the topic, but a specific goal for a meeting’s outcome will direct your conversation and focus the group. This especially applies to recurring meetings. Share this goal with the team prior to the meeting (along with the agenda), so you’re not spinning your collective wheels.

Only Invite the Pertinent Players

Bringing in employees who are not pertinent to the topic is a waste of valuable time. What’s worse, many teams bring everyone together and then conduct what amounts to a series of one-on-ones with the rest of the group serving as an audience. If the topic doesn’t pertain to everyone, let those people skip the meeting, or cancel it and conduct personal conversations as needed.

Harvard Business Review warns against this: “With too many attendees, you may have trouble focusing everyone’s time and attention and accomplishing anything; with too few, you might not have the right decision makers or information providers in the room.”

 

Make a Proper Agenda

Create an agenda at least a day in advance of the meeting, and circulate it to the attendees so they have time to prepare. An effective agenda includes an objective (see number 1 above) and no more than 5 points to be covered. Include an end time if possible, and always close the agenda with the chance to review the outcomes of the meeting and to recap the to-dos each person is walking away with. This will help clarify what was decided and make the next steps clear.

 

Let Different People Run It

Different topics may be better facilitated by different people around the table. Decide beforehand if a certain participant would be better suited to run a certain a section of the meeting, either because it’s a project they’re working on, an initiative they’re pushing, or a challenge they’re facing. It allows them to express the topic in their own words and manage the discussion effectively.

End it When It’s Over

So many meetings go a full hour just because they’re scheduled for an hour. If you finish in 45 minutes, do everyone a favor and wrap it up early. Everyone will appreciate your respect for their time, and those 15 minutes will feel like a mini temporal-gift.

 

If You Don’t Need it, Don’t Hold It

Just because you have a recurring meeting on your calendar doesn’t mean it is always necessary. Check in ten minutes beforehand to determine if you really need to meet or if you can accomplish your to-dos in a quick phone call or email.

 

For a neutral, comfortable meeting spot, reserve one of Earle Brown Heritage Center’s conference rooms – available for rental any day of the week. See our list of spaces and meeting rooms to get started.