Here’s how to run productive meetings that leave people energised. By Ayushi Khandelwal
1. Have a clear objective clear
Before you send out a meeting request, first ask yourself: ‘What is the objective?’. If you have a definite answer, then go ahead, but if you don’t have a particular action plan then you might want to think twice. What do you wish to accomplish? And will the meeting really help to towards that goal? Calling people to meetings for vague purposes like status update, etc will lead to an aimless social gathering where everyone will mourn the loss of their time. And they’re more likely to avoid your meetings in the future. A meeting with a clear, vivid and specific objective is more likely to be efficient and successful, and will win the confidence of the participants.
2. Create a schedule and stick to it
Once your objective is set, formulate an agenda of the same and email it to all the participants before the meeting. The email should briefly inform them of your objective and agenda so that they can come prepared with their queries or presentations. Also, come up with a timeline where each topic is allotted a specific time so that there’s no straying away into non-relevant topics and you make sure all are covered efficiently within the set time. Once the meeting starts, handout printouts of the agenda, or put it up where everyone can see it, like on a white board or screen. This way people will stay more focused and be wary of speaking for too long.
3. Invite people judiciously
Bored and distracted faces are a common sight in a meeting where there are more people than necessary. Inviting people to a meeting out of courtesy rather than a necessity is a no-no. It’s an impediment to the smooth conduct of a meeting. Invite only those who are directly affected (if making an announcement) or have specific knowledge/can provide valuable solutions (if discussing a problem). Once people realise they have no role to play they will get bored and distracted, which affect the professional aura of the meeting. They will also grudge you the time they feel was wasted at the meeting. So be selective when choosing participants so as to ensure a more effective meeting.
4. Be punctual
One of the golden rules for conducting a productive meeting is to respect and value others’ time. Meetings that drag on and on lose their importance soon. Once people know that you’re the sort whose meetings don’t start on time or worse, finish on time, they stop taking your meetings seriously. So be responsible and make sure to start and finish it on time. Others will show you the courtesy you’ve shown them and turn up on time. Avoid keeping a meeting towards the end of the day as that’s when everyone’s low on productivity. And don’t let a meeting drag on for more than an hour. After that you’ve lost most of your participants to boredom.
5. Ban gadgets
The distracting faces often disrupt the flow of the meeting. All of us are hooked to our mobile phones, but there are certain occasions, like meetings, that require you to be focussed and connected. So ask everyone to turn their phones on silent and keep them away. That way there’s no temptation to keep checking emails or catch up on Facebook.
6. Do a follow up
For a meeting to be successful ensure that everyone walks away with clear roles and responsibilities. Shortly after the meeting, at least within a day, send out an emailing highlighting the major points discussed, decisions taken, responsibilities delegated and deadlines finalised. This should go out to all participants so that there is no confusion and everyone is on the same page.