1. Keep Meetings Short
Most employees view meetings as a distraction from their already-heavy workload, their attention will keep wandering away toward their mental to-do list if the meeting seems to meander. Organization is critical to efficiency; toward that end, give serious thought to assigning each topic in a meeting to a specific “owner” or coordinator. This compartmentalizes the topics so people are less likely to ramble on or get sidetracked. You might even consider having the meeting participants stand up during the meeting — a highly effective way to shorten the duration, especially late in the day when everyone is tired.
2. Do Some of the Work Before the Meeting
Many meetings include endless summaries and descriptions, as participants introduce piles of information to each other in attempt to sound authoritative. All this data must then be processed and understood before any kind of action plan can go forward. To avoid overwhelming and confusing your meeting participants, have your various topic “owners” distribute relevant background information ahead of time. This allows your team to go over the necessary details so that when the meeting starts, everyone is already on the same page. Of course you should also send the agenda of the next meeting to these individuals so they can start to collect and organize their information.
3. Engage and Entertain
No rule engraved in stone states that meetings must follow a rote pattern of presentation and response. Why not break the meeting into a series of mini-meetings, each following a different format? You could try dividing the team into groups, switching to a panel discussion, and so forth. You might also devote the first few minutes of the meeting to a “mix and mingle” session so things start off on a relaxed footing. (Just make sure everyone knows when to stop socializing and move on to the next phase) Don’t be afraid to introduce skits, songs or anything else that will liven things up while keeping the meeting on mission.
4. Take Action and Measure Progress
The founder of GoDaddy, Bob Parsons, has a list of what he terms his “16 Rules for Survival.” Two of these rules might have been formulated with meetings in mind: “be quick to decide,” and “anything that is not managed will deteriorate.” He recommends taking swift, decisive action rather than tabling a worthy idea for later use. Make sure each meeting ends with an action plan, a set of steps for each participant to accomplish by a set date. Schedule a follow-up session where each participant must account for the progress made — or not made — on those steps. Only by measuring progress can your team achieve a goal.
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