As the saying goes - "Time is Money" . And so, the more time you and your staff spend on meetings that achieve little, the more precious man-hours are lost. The following are a few tips to make your meetings more productive.
1) Define the Goals of a Meeting: Before you call a meeting, define and list the goals that you need to achieve from the meeting. What ends do your meeting need to meet?
2) Have a Clear Focus for Each Meeting: Do not include too many topics of discussion that concern too many different people. Try to break up your meetings into smaller time-frames and groups. This of course, would depend on the purpose of the meeting.
3) Only Invite People Who Are Relevant to the Meeting: Generally speaking, the more people that are at your meeting and the more topics on the agenda, the more likely it is that discussions will meander off-topic. This again depends on the nature of issues at hand. Calling small meetings may sometimes not serve the purpose.
4) Make an Agenda: Analyse what duties need to be assigned, etc, and chalk out an agenda for your meeting. Make sure the most important topics are discussed first.
5) Allot a Time-Frame for Each Topic: Analyse how much time each topic deserves, and allot a time-frame for it. Make it a habit to stick to the time allotted. If conversation steers in different directions, gently steer it back. This will give cue to your staff to stick to issues at hand, and you will start to see more productivity from each passing meeting. Even if your meeting is for a brain-storming session, you will probably need to structure discussions in order to narrow down towards a decision.
6) Make Sure Everyone Important to the Agenda is Going to Attend: Fixing a time for a meeting can be very challenging. Make sure that you send out feelers beforehand, to everyone who needs to attend, before you fix the time for your meeting.
7) E-mail Points of Discussion to All Attendees a Few Days Before the Meeting: This will ensure that everyone comes prepared for a meeting.
8) Send a Reminder the Morning of the Day of a Meeting: This will ensure that no one "forgets" to attend.
9) Don't Wait For Late-Comers: Start meetings on time. Once you begin practicing this, late-comers will stick out like sore thumbs and quite simply will stop being late-comers.
10) Have a No-Answering Cell-Phones or Texting Policy: Answering cell phones and texting during meetings is disrespectful to other people's time, an irritant and a sure-fire way to lengthen meeting-times. Have a strict no-cell-phone policy for your meetings.
11) Assign Someone the Task of Keeping Records of Discussions, Decisions and Required Actions: This will make it easier for follow-through, making meetings truly productive.
12) Set Aside Some Time For Questions: Encourage all those present to ask questions. It's important for even the most junior trainee or protege to have doubts cleared.
13) End with a List of Actionable Outcomes: Go through who needs to carry out what functions and what the actionable outcome needs to be, with a time-frame. This will ensure that your meetings will lead to high follow-through.
14) Say a Personal Hello and Goodbye to Everyone in the Room: Whether it's a shake of a hand, or a word of greeting and goodbye, make sure everyone's presence is felt at a meeting. This will keep morale up.
15) Don't Forget to Squeeze in a Few Moments of Humour: A little humour goes a long way to lighten the mood, break monotony and keep everyone attentive.
16) E-mail Minutes Within 24 Hours: Minutes of each Meeting should be e-mailed when discussions are fresh for recall. This will allow attendees to send feedback, and reiterate points.
We hope these tips help you gain immense productivity from your meetings.