Meetings are a great place for ideas to flow, to enable interaction and air grievances. And while these can all help boost team morale, a meeting that goes on too long can become boring or, worse, affect employees’ workloads and schedules.
Here are a few tips to make sure you finish on time…
1. Plan a specific end point
At the start, suggest a topic that will be covered last. When this comes up, it will act as a flag to everyone that the meeting is drawing to a close.
It’s also worth noting the end time when sending out the agenda. Many people will pick a start time and just stick an hour, or half an hour, in the diary. You need to make it clear how long the meeting will last and ask if anyone has any pressing engagements afterwards.
2. Give attendees an out
If you’re running the meeting and you feel it’s getting away from you at the end, with endless questions or offshoot conversations, you need to speak up. One of the best ways is to give everyone an out.
At a suitable point in the conversation, just ask if there’s anything else that needs covering before adjourning the meeting. Those who are looking for a way out can then speak up saying they’re done.
If others have questions or other topics to discuss, ask them if they need the whole team there.
3. Make it smaller
While it’s good to have the whole team in for general catch up meeting, once you’ve covered everything on the agenda you might not need everyone to stick around.
As mentioned above, if someone brings up an additional topic or has a few unanswered questions, ask if they want to stay back after to discuss it.
You’ll need to judge the room – look around and see if there are bored faces or whether the topic raised has perked people up. If you’ve got a bored boardroom, let those who don’t need to be involved go.
This can also be applied at the start of the meeting. Let people know what’s on the agenda – it might turn out that some staff are not needed at all.
4. Be willing to step in
At some point, you’ll need to step in and override whoever’s talking. We’ve all been in these types of meetings when one comment leads to another, then another conversation is started and, before long, there’s a serious discussion over last night’s Game of Thrones episode taking place.
This might be fun, but it’s also costing your business time and money.
As meeting coordinator, you might need to talk over someone and bring the meeting to a swift, but pleasant end. Just tell them that they’re free to continue their discussions over who has the most valid claim to the throne, but that it’ll have to take place outside of the meeting room.
Posted by Sara Cano