Have you ever attended a boring and grueling meeting? We bet you have. Endless sessions on nothing, where you don't even have to sit down anyway, are one of the flaws of the modern age. The time spent in unnecessary meetings of this kind can naturally be used more efficiently. For example, developers want to develop, not waste their precious time in useless discussions. I know from my own experience that a few simple tricks can make a big difference and help to make people leave your meetings with a feeling that it was time well spent.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a small company or a large enterprise; long, ineffective meetings are a pain in the neck for all of us. Yet all it takes is following a few simple rules to bring about the desired result (and have people enjoying themselves).
Seven steps to make meetings more efficient:
- Consider whether a face-to-face meeting is necessary. Sometimes, things can just be resolved over the phone or with a short conversation with the people involved.
- Ask participants to come prepared. If possible, do not call any last-minute meetings.
- Before you start, pick someone to moderate the meeting. Aside from managing time, they should be able to gracefully nip any irrelevant discussion in the bud and make sure people don’t digress.
- Each session should have a clearly defined and comprehensible goal known to all attendees. They should also know the purpose and the agenda of the meeting. Only then will it be productive and meaningful.
- Invite only as many relevant people as really necessary. That way, you'll avoid lengthy debates that lead to nothing.
- Concentration is key to maximum efficiency. Everyone should put away their phones and computers unless they are needed or someone is expecting an important call.
- Meetings should be a safe place for everyone involved who wants to discuss the topic and find the best possible solution. Don't give the floor to only the loudest individuals, everyone invested in the topic should express themselves. In particular, make sure that even the introverts’ voices are heard (yes, they can speak).
These steps will help you to conduct business meetings efficiently and to reduce their duration to the minimum extent necessary. Also, don’t get too bogged down in the details, those can be discussed with anyone involved outside the meeting. Focus on the main topics and get down to the bottom of things.
Did you follow the rules above but still feel like it just wasn’t cutting it? Consider changing the direction, time, or environment. Even small things like a meeting room with windows or fresh air are important. The same can be said for when the meeting takes place. Avoid early morning hours (not everyone goes to the office at eight o'clock), anything right after lunch (the body is too busy digesting), or late afternoons, when people are already mentally going home.