Meetings can be hugely beneficial when they get a group of people together who identify actions and then make them happen. They can also be talking shops where there is a lot of talk but little action. We probably all have been to both types. So what can you do to run more effective meetings?
Tip 1: Know why you are having the meeting
This is a fairly obvious statement to make but you would be surprised how many meetings take place without a clear purpose or outcome. Think about the meetings you attend. Is it crystal clear to you and everyone one else what you are aiming for from the meeting? If not, what could you do about it?
Tip 2: Estimate the cost of the meeting
Nothing sharpens the mind more than working out the cost of each meeting. When I worked in professional services we rarely had meetings not related to clients. Why? The simple reason was that every hour we spent in a meeting not related to clients equated to a lost revenue and profit. If you have 10 people at a meeting who are charged out at £100 per hour to clients and you have a two hour meeting, that’s £2000 (about US$3,400) in potential lost revenue. At a time when the economy is stretched it might be worth looking at the cost of internal meetings.
Tip 3: Have an agenda
Make sure that every meeting has an agenda and that there is a clear process and cut-off point for agenda items. This forces those attending to be prepared. If you find that you have no agenda items by the cut-off point, cancel the meeting.
Tip 4: Limit tabled papers
Get papers and reports out at least a week before the meeting and make it clear that tabled papers will only be accepted if it is something that is business critical. By business critical I mean a genuine emergency or unexpected event that no one was aware of when papers were distributed, rather than lack of planning by the person who wants to table something.
Tip 5: Consider virtual meetings
I attended a meeting which on average was lasting two hours each week. We decided to start holding the meeting by conference call and it lasted about 45 minutes. Travel time for those attending was zero and we all gained at least 75 minutes extra time for other work. What meetings do you attend that might be more effectively run as virtual meetings?
Bottom Line – Meetings will be necessary from time to time. Your objective for all meetings should be to maximise outcomes and minimise cost. So what could you do differently to run more effective meetings?
By Dominic Mccarthy