Business people often have high hopes of a productive meeting before it starts, yet feel frustration and boredom set in within just the first few minutes. With a little planning, it doesn’t have to be this way.
For starters, keep the meeting attendee list as short as possible. It should contain only those who have a vested interest in anything discussed in the meeting or the possible outcomes. When too many people attend, especially those who aren’t closely involved with the matters up for discussion, you run the risk of having them weigh in on matters that don’t affect them and having the meeting run long.
Set Clear Expectations About the Use of Smartphones
Nearly every adult in the United States owns a smartphone, especially those who work in a business setting. They also tend to carry them everywhere they go. This can spell bad news when you’re trying to hold a productive meeting. Instead of listening to what’s going on, some meeting attendees may be checking email or texts or even have a phone call come in that disrupts everyone else. To avoid these scenarios, let attendees know they need to turn off their devices if they wish to keep them on their person during the meeting.
Never Hold a Meeting without Setting an Agenda First
Some organizations get into the habit of holding a weekly or bi-weekly meeting regardless if there is anything new to discuss. This is obviously a waste of time for everyone. The meeting organizer should also be the one to provide an agenda in advance of topics to discuss during the meeting. The meeting organizer should also provide any materials to be reviewed to attendees in advance to save time during the meeting itself. If you’re invited to a meeting and don’t feel your presence is necessary, ask what it is that you’re expected to contribute.
Each Item on the Meeting Agenda Should Have a Time Limit
It’s easy to get sidetracked on the first issue on the agenda and never get to anything else. People often have strong opinions and won’t hesitate to share them when they have an audience. While understandable, it’s also counterproductive. It can give too much time to those with more assertive personalities and not enough to those who are less assertive, but have equally important things to say. The best way to prevent this and to ensure a productive meeting is to assign someone to keep time for discussion for each item that’s on the agenda. Everyone must move on when that time is up.
Sometimes these problems will persist despite your best attempts at holding or attending a productive meeting. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up the goal entirely. Just make a note of what went wrong and commit to continually brainstorming ideas for keeping meetings on track.