If you’re finding that conferences in your company haven’t been as productive as you might like, the problem could lie in a number of commonly made meeting mistakes. Be sure to take these tips into consideration before, during and after your meetings to ensure that all participants get out of each meeting what you put into them.
Make sure the topic warrants a formal meeting. By now, many of us have seen those blue ribbons floating around social media that read, “I survived a meeting that should have been an email”. Sitting in conference rooms eats up huge chunks of an employee’s day, so make sure the meeting you’re planning actually requires a formal get-together before you schedule it. If you only need a short answer to a question, stop by your coworker’s desk and ask in person, or simply send him or her an email. You may also want to incorporate small, casual meeting spaces into your office that are specifically meant for impromptu chats between just a few employees. This will provide designated areas for coworkers to meet at a moment’s notice in order to discuss something that may only require 10 or 15 minutes of talking time.
Make sure all participants are relevant to the topic. On the same wavelength, make sure that only relevant participants are invited to your meetings. Filling a conference room with excess people will do no good for productivity. Rather than inviting a whole team to a given meeting, you may want to invite one member of that team and have them relay action items to others in the group. Who you invite to your meetings will largely depend on the topic at hand and who in the company it affects, but keep in mind that, when it comes to meetings, more is not always merrier.
Stay on topic. It can be very easy to go off topic in a meeting, especially one with a large number of participants. If you are the organizer of the conference, you may want to type up an agenda and distribute it the day before in order to prevent off-topic conversations. This will keep everyone on the same page and provide and easy outline for everything that needs to be discussed in the allotted time.
Keep one eye on the clock. The first step toward good time management during a meeting is scheduling it for the appropriate amount of time. Although you don’t want to waste time by scheduling a meeting for too long of a time slot, you also want to make sure that your expectations for how long a meeting will take are realistic. That is to say, don’t try to do too much in a small amount of time. Make sure you stay aware of what time it is throughout the meeting so that you can touch on everything you want to cover within the given timeframe.
Wrap up effectively. When you bring your meeting to a close, make action steps for each participant clear, ensuring that everyone understands what to take away when they return to their desks. For larger conferences, you may want to email participants a summary of what was discussed and what action steps are needed. Be sure to give clear directions, not suggestions, and provide deadlines whenever possible.
What are your best tips for keeping meetings productive and on task? Share them in the comments below!