Meetings are an essential part of your job but they are also a source of futile time. We have gathered and studied all articles that have been written about business meetings and we present our conclusions below.
Have you ever wondered how many meetings you attended last week? How many of these meetings were worth your time? Meetings will always be part of everyday life, especially for executives. Described as very powerful tools that play a role in decision making, setting priorities and team coordination, they often fail to meet their goals.
What makes a meeting effective? According to Atlassian, an effective meeting is one that will gather a certain number of people to a physical or digital space, for a very specific reason. The meeting should be open to dialogue and should lead to a tangible result.
The purpose of a meeting should be to focus on the discussion that takes place here and now, rather than being an out of dated communication via email threads.
The fewer the better
Calendly made a list of those who should be present in the meetings:
those with a relevant objective
those who make decisions
those who are considered important in implementation
those affected by the problems that arise
those affected by the problems that arise
those who are in charge of the discussion topic
those who have the know-how and can make a real contribution
Agenda of the day
The most vital requirement for a successful meeting, according to the NY times, is its agenda. It is very important to have one in any form (hardcopy, written on the board or discussed at the beginning of the meeting) so that the purpose of the meeting is clear. The agenda works as a compass to the conversation.
The final purpose of the meeting
An agenda is crucial so that the meeting remains on topic throughout its course. Equally important, however, is its ultimate goal. The agenda can only describe its goal-oriented process. According to McKinsey, we often associate meetings with the subject on the agenda and not with our actual purpose.
How many times have we found ourselves in the midst of clarifying that the meeting is taking place in order for us to exchange information and knowledge and to discuss or conclude on a decision?
Time management in meetings
There are four things that can go wrong with time management:
1. The meeting starts late
2. The meeting ends late
3. A single topic dominates the entire meeting
4. The meeting is too long and participants lose focus
Psychology Today defines time management as the ability of a person to plan and control how time is spent in a day in order to achieve daily goals.
The four functionalities of time management
According to the Project Management Quarterly, time management consists of four basic functions:
1. Planning: you need to know how to plan your day, your meetings and how you and your team can accomplish set goals. Project managers need to consider issues or obstacles that may arise so that they can make sure that enough time is provided.
2. Scheduling: managers who are quick to realize the pressure of time, try to adjust scheduling accordingly. Project managers need to understand what needs to be done, what is considered a priority, who can do it and when.
3. Monitoring: proper time management is about good communication between team members. Part of monitoring is frequently checking the stage of the project and whether it responds to the schedule. A project manager must see how much time is spent on activities, tasks, and all things counterproductive.
4. Audit: Without exception the time available is the same for everyone. How we each spend it is up to us. Project managers must exercise control so that each task is completed on time. Additionally, any decisions made during a project should not affect its deadline.
Each meeting should outcome an action plan. This should be clear, specific and aimed at particular team members. According to Slack the action plan should be channeled towards the right people with specific deadlines. The progress of each task should be monitored during execution. Auditing makes people take their work seriously but also reminds them of their commitments. Furthermore, it demonstrates that their contribution and the time they spend in the meeting is positively evaluated.
Quite often a discussion can be diverted for various reasons. It is very important that guidelines are created so that meetings are conducted in a civilized and calm manner, even if conflicts arise.
· assume the other person's positive intention
· keep possible differences in mind
· ensure clarification and completion
· if you detect something, talk about it
· silence means disagreement
It is important for team members to feel free to determine whether they are useful in a meeting. If someone wants to leave in the middle of the meeting, allow it. This is one of Elon Musk’s basic principles. It is not wrong for someone to leave a meeting if they think they have nothing to offer the team. Many times, if the agenda has 10 different tasks and some members are only related to one of them then it makes sense for them to excuse themselves and return to their duties.
It may sound obvious but how often do you ask your co-workers to give you some feedback after a meeting? Approach them one by one, send a questionnaire or set an action plan to follow-up. Ask if the meeting was helpful or if there are suggestions for improvement in the future. This way you will be able to organize meetings so that they are more productive for all participants.