To encourage communication, many leaders have opted for weekly and monthly team meetings. While they offer great benefits, meetings can truly become a routine exercise that kills productivity. If you do not wish to waste precious time in never-ending meetings, then consider these six elements to transform your meetings into fruitful collaborative efforts:
- Clearly identify the purpose of the meeting and expected outcomes with an agenda. If your team understands the meeting objectives and decisions to be made, the meeting will be more productive. Your team will be active and engaged in focusing on the expected outputs.
- Take time to determine who should attend the meeting and who should not. Just like money, time should not be wasted. Some people may be invited to participate in the discussion of a few agenda items, while others may be asked to attend the full meeting. In addition, identify a meeting facilitator. It may be you, someone from your team, or an external facilitator.
- Set a time for the meeting, with a timeline for each agenda item. In doing so, you can easily interrupt those who can’t stop talking and derail the conversation. You may simply say, “Thank you, Joe, for your input, but for the sake of time, we will let other team members express their ideas.”
- Start the meeting on time, and ask for cell phones to be on vibration mode. Most importantly, the meeting facilitator should stick to the agenda and encourage the decision-making process.
- Run shorter meetings. Long meetings are generally more exhausting and not as productive. Teams do not seem to have the same level of energy and creativity when meetings last for hours, unless you schedule breaks every hour or so.
- Send meeting minutes to all participants, summarizing the discussions of each agenda item. In addition, send a reminder e-mail with action items resulting from the meeting, the accountable staff member, and deadlines.
By following these guidelines, you will run meaningful meetings that will heighten the participation of your colleagues and produce the sought-after outcomes.