The Masterful Meetings Habit

Most meetings at work do not deliver the benefits they could, or should, deliver. They are too long, too dull, not focused enough… and that is just for starters.

So how can you improve the effectiveness of your meetings? Here are some tips to help you.

Face-to-face meetings are still an important communication tool in business. But meetings where more than two people are involved often waste time and so create frustration in those attending.

Some simple habits can help your meetings to become a productive and useful use of every ones time.

1. Do start your meetings on time. Meetings are what is known as committed time and when the participants accepted and the meeting, they did so on the expectation that it would start (and end) on time. If it doesn’t then their planed schedule for the rest of the day is immediately destroyed. So do allow yourself time to get to the meeting so you are not late, and if it’s your meeting then do start it on time. If people are late, then that’s their problem. - do not hold up a meeting for the persistent latecomer as this simply penalises those who do manage their time well.

2. Do allow a 10-15 minute check-in if people do not get to meet up regularly. This check-in period gives people a chance to catch up socially with their colleagues and this then allows them to focus on the meeting once it begins.

3. Do agree some simple rules for your meeting. These rules can include things such as no mobile phones, no talking over each other etc. You may need to remind people of these rules at the start of each meeting, until these working methods become habits.

4. Don’t let your meetings become “death by PowerPoint” Too many people do not understand how to give a presentation of information in an engaging and informative way. If the other people in the meeting switch off, then time is wasted and your meeting is not effective.

5. Do ensure that each person invited to the meeting is clear on what their contribution is to the meeting and how it is of value to others. Do not have meeting groupies who have no part to play in the meeting – they will disrupt it!

6. Do agree concrete action steps, clear accountability and timescales. Most meetings do not need extensive minutes – and anyway even if you do produce them most people will not read them. However, you will need to capture and distribute the action points so that people know what they must do as a result of the meeting.

7. Do make sure all views are aired. Masterful meetings have lively, healthy debate and a focus on outcomes and decisions. This requires the chair of the meeting to skilfully guide participants so all contributions are made concisely and at the right time in the meeting.

8. Finally, do know how much the meeting is costing you in terms of everybody’s time. Time is money and every 10 minutes you spend in a meeting beyond its scheduled end time is time that cannot be used to progress other important business activities.

If you need help making your meetings masterful, then take a look at our effective meetings training course