How much time at work do you spend in meetings? If you’re like most people, probably a lot. While well-thought-out meetings have the capacity to encourage people to take action, strengthen relationships, and improve collaboration, poorly planned meetings can have the opposite effect.
A good number of meetings that are held in the business world are a waste of time. Don’t be one of those meeting organizers. Learn how to conduct more effective and productive meetings by avoiding these common meeting mistakes.
Meetings with no agenda are destined for failure. You need to have a clear idea of why you are pulling people together into a room. A meeting agenda lays out a defined purpose for your meeting and what you hope to accomplish.
Another problem that plagues meetings is trying to get too much accomplished in a single meeting. Make sure that your agenda is clear and focused. Send out the agenda ahead of time and communicate it to your team.
While an agenda will get you off to a good start, it will typically just contain a list of topics and the amount of time allotted to discuss each topic. Make sure you have a clear plan for how you actually want to use the meeting time, such as activities for exploring ideas, coming up with solutions, and making decisions.
What does success look like in terms of the meeting’s outcome? Is your goal to brainstorm ideas, or come up with a plan of action? Be specific when setting goals for your meeting.
Who is in charge of facilitating the meeting? Make sure someone is leading the meeting to prevent it from spiraling into chaos. A facilitator can help the group stay on topic and ensure that everyone in the room is heard.
You could also have multiple facilitators per meeting, assigning a different facilitator for each agenda item, for example. Whether you have one or many facilitators, it’s absolutely necessary for every meeting to have a leader.
Even if attendees are late to your meeting, make it a point to start and end your meetings on time. If you run out of time and aren’t able to accomplish your goals for the meeting, ask the attendees for permission to extend the meeting right then or schedule a separate meeting to continue the discussion, if absolutely necessary.
Try to keep a record of what happens in all of your team meetings. Assign someone to take notes during the meeting and send the meeting minutes via email to all attendees.
Make sure that anyone in the meeting actually needs to be there. Meeting attendees should either have something to contribute to the conversation or be needed in order to make a decision.
Inviting everyone to a meeting just so that they are up to date on the latest information is unnecessary because you could just send them an update via email. With clear goals, an agenda, and a plan, it should become apparent who really needs to be at your meeting - and who doesn´t.
Hosting your meeting in the wrong room is a recipe for failure. The space should be large enough to accommodate all of the attendees comfortably. It should also contain the supplies and equipment you need to successfully facilitate the meeting, whether that be a monitor to share your screen, a videoconferencing tool to connect with remote attendees, or a whiteboard and post-it notes to sketch out your ideas. If your meeting is going to last half a day or longer, provide refreshments and order catering.
By avoiding these common meeting mistakes, you will be well on your way to having successful meetings that engage attendees, boost morale, and empower your organization to make more effective decisions.
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