7 ways to run more efficient meetings
Practically every company holds some sort of meeting, and the larger the company, the more meetings you have to attend (in our experience!). To reduce the hours wasted in overrunning or unnecessary meetings every day, a lot of companies are looking for ways to make their meetings more effective. The majority of the tips below require some pre-meeting organization, but the pay off – shorter meetings, clearer actions, more focused attendees – is well worth the effort.
Before the meeting
1. Have an agenda. This can’t be emphasized enough! Just writing down the main items to be covered focuses the meeting and means it’s less likely to cover unimportant topics. If you find you don’t need an agenda, it might be that you don’t need a meeting at all.
2. Timebox each agenda item. Even a rough estimate indicates to the attendees the relative importance of each section, and how much they may need to prepare. If the total time adds up to more than an hour, consider if a second meeting needs to be scheduled to avoid meeting fatigue.
3. Ensure the people who need to be there, are there. If you need sign off on a project or new venture, it’s no use holding a meeting if the decision maker isn’t present. Equally, if people aren’t affected by the outcomes of the meeting, it’s possible they don’t need to be there. Fewer attendees focuses the discussion.
4. Go digital. Consider putting meeting documents online, eliminating the ‘I wasn’t sent that document’ problem. Systems like Meeting Squared allow you to upload all the meeting documents and information into an online portal, which can then be accessed by all participants on their personal devices. Not only does it reduce the burden on administrative staff, it saves paper and printing costs.
During the meeting
5. Put off-topic discussions to one side. If you find that the conversation is veering away from the original subject, step in, acknowledge the discussion, then set it aside. One way you could signify this is to write the off-topic points on post-it notes and then place them on a wall or whiteboard. That way it’s clear what belongs outside the meeting, and the conversation can get back on track.
6. Summarise the actions. Ensure conversations aren’t left dangling by summarising the actions and who was assigned to them, at the end of each item. Then recap them all again at the end of the meeting. This is especially important if formal minutes aren’t being taken.
After the meeting
7. Follow up. If you said you would chase Karen for those monthly sales figures, do just that. If subsequent meetings start with a long list of actions that weren’t completed, it will devalue the whole process and discourage other members of staff from addressing their actions as well.
Reduce the delay in circulating meeting minutes, or even eliminate the need for them altogether, by enabling recording and transcription on Yack.net calls. Minutes after the meeting finishes, the recording is available to view by the attendees. This means that actions can be started straight away, as there’s no need to wait for the minutes to be typed and circulated to remember what you had to do. Indeed, the transcription of the call appears soon after the recording, which in a lot of cases will remove the need for formal meeting minutes. Yet another time saver for your administrative staff!
Most of these tips are common sense, but all too often they’re ignored. The best way to hold an efficient meeting is to do some groundwork beforehand, then stay on track during the meeting. And as we know at Yack.net, more efficient meetings mean more time for an extra cup of tea!
Do you have any tips that improved the efficiency of your meetings? Let us know, by commenting below!