Meetings have a tendency to keep going for hours, whether you are attending them in person or through the internet. Contrary to what some believe, however, it is not because there are just too many topics that need attention. Rather, it is because participants tend to ramble or stray away from the topic at hand, thus delaying the resolution of important items on the list. Don’t let yourself get trapped in a never-ending unproductive meeting. Brush up on these tips, whether you are the facilitator or just an attendee, so that you can get out of that meeting room and back to your desk as soon as possible.
Create an Agenda
Before you even log into that meeting room, you’ve got to make sure that you already know what you want to talk about. If you’re the one facilitating the meeting, make a list of all the most important topics that must be decided upon during the discussion. Then, e-mail the list at least three days before the meeting is scheduled to begin so that everybody has enough time to prepare their thoughts on the matter. If you are only one of many attending the meeting, make sure to ask the facilitator any questions you may have about the agenda prior to the discussion’s start date. If somebody strays away from the items on the agenda, steer them back on track. Remember: each discussion should have a concrete end goal. It’s not the time to be discussing your favorite sports team or the performance of an unrelated company department. You shouldn’t move on to the next item on the list until you’ve settled on a final decision for previous ones, either, according to Inc.
Moderate the Conference
If you notice anybody going off-topic, tell that person that he or she can further pursue the topic by using e-mail instead of discussing it right then and there. Though it may be difficult to cut off somebody who’s rambling, it’s something you must learn to do for the sake of the other people in the group. Should there already be a participant who is known for being drawn-out, pull him or her aside before the conference–or send them an e-mail or private message–to remind them to keep any input short, according to an article from Harvard Business Review. If people seem too distracted by taking down notes, reassure them that they don’t have to and that you’ll just send over all of the meeting materials after the conversation is over. Should anybody raise concerns about potentially forgetting to take note of something, reassure them that you have the resources to allow them to check back on any part of the meeting. This is something that you can do by using a great all-in-one enterprise video conferencing solution like BlueJeans.
Set a Strict Time Limit
So many people seem to think that the idea meeting length should be an hour. However, that does not have to be the case at all. You can even have fifteen minute meetings and finish tons more in that short amount of time. The important thing to remember is to stick to your agenda. There’s no point in keeping people around for longer if there’s nothing important left to discuss. If you’re the facilitator, make sure to indicate how long the meeting is expected to go for. Even better, go the extra mile and indicate specific time periods for each item on your agenda. That way, everybody knows how the time is to be split between each topic. If somebody is still not done speaking but it’s time to move on to the next topic, tell him or her that they can continue their line of thought via e-mail.
Make People Stand Up
Though we don’t recommend doing this all the time, it’s one creative way of forcing your meeting participants to make it quick. If nobody is allowed to sit down, you’ll definitely notice that people will waste less time and will get straight to the point. After all, nobody wants to stand around for an hour since it can get uncomfortable very quickly. You can think of other creative conditions for your meeting, too, such as penalizing people who go over their time limit and asking them to treat the rest of their officemates for lunch the next day.
Be a Productive Meeting Participant with These Tips
It can be challenging to try and change the habits of other people, but do your best to be a good example to everybody else. Eventually, your co-workers will see the benefits of being more focused during meetings and may even follow your lead. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be able to breeze through conferences and get back to more important tasks in no time.
Tips for Arranging Successful Online Business Meetings:
- Have a clear and well-communicated agenda
- Ensuring great quality video and audio
- Always be on time
- Preparing your information in advance
- Practice before the meeting
- Be mindful of your speaking volume
- Set time limits
- Notify participants of an upcoming meeting in advance
- Post documents in advance for effective discussion
- Bring value to the discussion
- Remove all clutter and distractions
- Engaging with your audience – keeping their attention
- Leave room for questions
- Do not speak out of turn
- Plan ways for everyone to contribute
- When necessary, encourage participants to initiate the join process
- Conclude with clear action items
- And now, last but not least, choose a trustworthy video conferencing software
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