Meetings. They're unavoidable in the workplace, however they can often end-up achieving very little and leaving the attendees feeling more than a little frustrated. Or asleep. One of our key aims at Administrate is to 'work smarter, not harder' and running efficient, successful meetings is a key component in making that happen. If you're dreading a meeting today, why not take control and put these tips into practice, you never know, you may even feel meeting-based chi. Maybe.
1 - Get out of the office
Controversial perhaps, but holding your meetings in the same room, on the same table just adds to the drudgery. Got a park nearby? Hold your next meeting there. If your local climate doesn't suit (we're based in Edinburgh, Scotland - current temperature = 1°C), why not head to a café? If your meeting requires the creative juices to liberally flow, the fresh air or lively surroundings could go a long-way to ensuring that's the case. If you read this and then do hold a meeting outside of the office, please tweet us a pic to @GetAdministrate, we'd love to see your setting.
2 - Bring something to the table, or don't come at all
Now there's a statement! Al Pittampalli is the author of Read this Before our Next Meeting and encourages people to "turn up in mind and spirit and contribute something". You don't want to be the person sitting staring into space, contributing the sum-total of zero! In order to combat this, Al recommends that you warn attendees that they won't be invited to future meetings if they don't add to the discussion and required outcomes of the gathering. Harsh, but fair.
3 - Never hold a meeting without an agenda
Every meeting should have a leader, and that leader should be guided by a tight agenda. I bet you've been in many meetings that meander along, jumping from point-to-point? Disastrous! You need an agenda - it doesn't have to be 'War and Peace', just ensure it has the key points and that it fits within the timescale for the meeting. If you have regular meetings that need to address the same areas, create agenda templates; this will save you time and make life a lot easier. Once you have your agenda, make sure you send it to all attendees in advance and offer them the chance to make comment/additions, that way, there won't be any curveballs thrown your way during the meeting.
4 - Watch the clock
How long is your average meeting? Could you cut that down? Take on the challenge of cutting the duration of your regular meetings in half. Once the time is set, you need to stick to it! If you're the leader, make sure the meeting starts on time and try to make it finish even just a few minutes early. All attendees should also arrive early. Someone turned up late? Make them do a forfeit. When people are in meetings, they aren't carrying out the tasks the business relies on them for. Here's a great tool from Harvard Business Review that calculates the cost of a meeting based on time and the average salary of attendees. Run it in your next meeting. Tick-tock.
5 - Follow-up
It's important that everybody takes actions from a meeting and follows up on them. The leader should send a brief meeting summary, ideally within the same day as the meeting. The agenda, the discussion and the follow-up are key to running successful meetings. If a follow-up item is high priority, create a calendar reminder that will prompt you to check if it has been progressed. Discipline is key!
Bonus tip - say it in five words
If you use Twitter you're likely a pro at getting your point across with limited copy. This can be applied to meetings too. Before the meeting gets going, go round the table and ask all attendees to articulate in five words or less what they feel needs to be the outcome of the discussion; this will help to ensure you're all pushing in the right direction. That tip is courtesy of Christopher Frank, author of Drinking from the Firehose.
Over to you...
Do you have a great tip to add? What's the worst meeting you've ever attended and why?
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