Think of how much time and money your company spends on meetings. Yet so few executives know what it takes to make meetings crisp and productive.
Here are 7 tips to make your meetings more effective:
1. Plan your meeting in advance – in writing
A. What is the purpose of the meeting?
- To generate ideas?
- To challenge and debate positions?
- To make a decision?
- To share information?
- Create a plan?
B: What preparation is needed for the meeting to be most effective?
- Is there information that each participant will need? Can you get them this information in advance?
- Do you need certain materials? Or a certain amount of time and attention?
C: What is your outlined agenda?
2. Set a “no texting; no email” policy for your meetings.
Make the meetings so on point and useful that you maximize the time. Texting and email during the meeting likely means you don’t have that individual actually fully participating. If you don’t need their full attention, then you likely don’t need them in the meeting! Also, while it may be more efficient for that one person to text or email during the meeting, they are still wasting all the other participants’ time by their distracted participation.
3. Cut the meeting time in half.
Shorter time often helps produce a more effective meeting. It creates a sense of urgency and energy to be efficient and productive.
4. Cut the frequency of set meetings in half.
Use email to send updates. Use a project management tool like basecamp, zoho projects, or some other software tool to create accountability. Use meetings for the things that only a meeting can do well – to collaborate on ideas, to come to a consensus or make a decision, or to vigorously debate an idea.
5. Cut the number of participants in half.
Do you really need 16 people sitting in that meeting for an hour? Couldn’t you shorten the meeting in half by inviting half the people who then focus on creating much better results out of that meeting? You can keep the other half informed of what was decided or learned from the meeting later.
6. Beware “legacy” meetings that no longer matter.
Just because you’ve always met before, doesn’t mean that the same meeting is still even needed. Cut unnecessary recurring meetings wherever possible.
7. Watch out for rabbit holes by creating a “holding place” list or simply not allowing the group to go down that path.
8. Follow up is what helps a company harvest the value from a meeting. What key insights did the meeting produce? What was decided? Who will take what steps? By when? How will they report back on results? If you don’t pin this down – in writing – meetings will start to slip to become a frivolous affair. To make meetings meaningful they must impact later behavior and investments that your company makes. Otherwise, why did you call the meeting in the first place?
By David Finkel is the CEO of Maui Mastermind®, one of the world’s premier business coaching companies. He is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of 11 books, including the wildly popular, Scale: 7 Proven Principles to Grow Your Company and Get Your Life Back, which he co-authored with Priceline.com Co-Founder Jeff Hoffman.
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