Have you ever found yourself sit in a meeting, not knowing why you’re there and just waiting for it to finish, so that you could go back to your desk and actually do something meaningful? Well, you’re certainly not the only one. Most of us have probably been to plenty of meetings that turned out to be a complete waste of time. On the other hand, meetings can be (and often are) very helpful, giving team members a chance to update one another on the progress of their tasks and think of a strategy for what’s to come. Far more often, unfortunately, the approach of employees is that they could spend the time much more productively, focusing on their assigned tasks.
So what can you do to make meetings more valuable? And how to keep employees engaged?
The rules to follow
Well, there are rules that you should remember about and some of them have been willingly adopted by well-known leaders. Judging by the success of their brands, there must be something to them.
For instance Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, only organizes meetings when they are absolutely necessary and to make them productive and useful, he keeps to what he calls a “two pizzas rule”. It means that the maximum number of people there could be on a meeting is as many as two pizzas can feed – otherwise, they are no longer productive. Steve Jobs, on the other hand, is known to have paid great attention to inviting only the people who really needed to be present at a meeting. That’s why he sometimes used to ask someone to leave if he wasn’t sure why there were there. Elon Musk, in turn, represents a slightly different approach. He demands his employees to always be well-prepared for their meetings and they are indeed, because if they weren’t, he would make it explicit that he knows it.
The aims of meetings
To determine what you should focus on in your meetings, let’s first determine the aim of meetings. First of all, it’s to share information – surely there’s hardly a better way to keep everyone up to date and make sure all team members are on the same page. Secondly, it’s a perfect opportunity to solve problems you’ve encountered and make important decisions. You might as well want to develop and implement an organization strategy or give team members an opportunity to look back on the project you’ve completed and share their thoughts and views. Thanks to that, you’ll be able to implement better solutions next time.
Having that in mind, let’s discuss the rules you should keep to.
Manage time and participants well
The length of meetings may vary depending on the company culture as well as the context – sometimes a few minutes is enough, whereas some other time it might take an hour or so to cover what needs to be discussed. No matter the case, always make sure is neither longer nor shorter than necessary. Managing the time is not an easy task, but it’s extremely important. If participants see that they don’t waste a minute, it will give them a sense of time well spent.
Another crucial thing is to make sure you’ve only invited those who really need to be present, and haven’t forgotten about anyone at the same time. Every minute of your team’s work is valuable so you better think carefully before you establish who should come. Maybe you could give those invited a chance to decide if they consider their presence necessary? If they don’t, maybe it’s worth taking their opinion into account.
Prepare an agenda
Preparing an agenda is useful not only for the participants, but also, if not especially, for yourself. It will give you a chance to plan the meeting and think carefully about the topics you want to discuss, thanks to which you won’t forget about anything and will know exactly what to talk about next. Once you prepare the agenda, make sure you share it with the group in advance, giving them a chance to get familiar with the content and their participation in the meeting.
An agenda will also be of great help during the meeting – everyone will be aware of the progress, which won’t let them think they’re wasting time. Make sure it covers the topics you want to discuss, the predicted time, the people responsible for each topic and the goals you want to accomplish.
Make it meaningful
When organising a meeting, first of all make it clear to all participants why you want to hold it. It will give them a chance to prepare and a reason to accept your invitation. Secondly, keep to the agenda you’ve prepared, so that you manage to discuss everything you’ve planned. Don’t let the meeting go off-track. It’s not easy, even with only a few participants, but it’s necessary if you want to tick off all the points in your agenda and keep all attendees involved and focused. Talking about the feeling of involvement, it’s also important that you give everyone a chance to ask questions and discuss the answers. Thanks to this, they will be able to resolve any doubts and go on with their tasks.
Take care of a good follow-up
As you get to the end of a meeting, don’t forget to take care of a good follow-up. First, sum up what you’ve established and agree on what should be done next, specifying the deadlines and who’s responsible. Then, check with them on a regular basis after the meeting to see if they need any support and if they have any problems meeting the deadlines. Once a team finishes their part of the projects, have them share it with the group to give everyone a sense of progress and a chance to sum up their participation.
What can help you a lot in organising the meeting, preparing an agenda and taking care of a good follow-up is an efficient task management and communication tool, such as HeySpace. See the features and try it out to see how it can help!
Are there any rules concerning meetings that you consider absolutely necessary? Let us know in the comments section!