How to Have More Productive Meetings

Meetings can take up a large part of your day – and they can sometimes leave you wondering what you accomplished by attending them. This can happen whether you’re organising or simply attending a meeting. With the appropriate planning and organisation, no-one should be left feeling this way – as the benefits should be apparent.

On the age-old topic of some staff feeling meetings are a waste of their time, there are two key rules: First, if you’re organising a meeting, it goes without saying that you must consider the objectives and goals in advance, so it will produce the results you need. Secondly, for those invited to attend a meeting, you will know whether it’s for informational purposes only or if you’re expected to contribute something. If you’re simply passing on information to others, is it necessary for you to stay for the whole meeting or is it acceptable for you to leave once you’ve played your part?

Desk angle of meeting

© successphoto / Adobe Stock

Of course, there’s much more to having a productive meeting and there are some simple techniques you can utilise. The most obvious of all is to make sure the meeting starts on time!

If you’re the organiser, it’s imperative that you arrive on time. Arriving late disrespects everyone attending the meeting. If you’re continually late, people will start to expect it and they will start arriving late to future meetings. So, you need to be in your chair ready before other staff start to turn up. Similarly, if you’re an attendee, being late sends out the wrong message and it makes it appear as though you think your time is more valuable than everyone else’s.

If your meeting is going to last more than 20 minutes, then have an agenda and distribute it in advance rather than at the start of the meeting. This will give people time to digest its contents and prepare properly. It doesn’t matter whether the meeting is short: incidentally, you can accomplish as much in a short meeting as a long one.

If something stands in the way of progress during the meeting, don’t waste too much time on it. Acknowledge it’s a problem, put it on the back-burner and move on to ensure you complete the agenda. There’s no point in going around in circles about one issue and not reaching any conclusion about it. Come back to it at a later date. If necessary, enlist a moderator to help keep the meeting on topic and move forward if this isn’t your strong point.

This doesn’t mean plough through people’s concerns – show respect and listen when someone is speaking, in the same way you would wish others to show respect to you. Never allow one person to take over the meeting to the detriment of everyone else. Speaking just to be heard is counter-productive if you’re not actually saying anything constructive.

Importantly, you should stop people from multi-tasking during meetings. This means no checking emails, sending texts or surfing the web, as these are all sure-fire ways of detracting from the matter in hand.

If action items are created during the meeting, make sure they’re followed up in time for the next one – make sure each individual is responsible for their own action points. Designate someone to make a note of action items and share documents and have this circulated to everyone after the meeting so everyone’s on the same page.

Finally, end the meeting on time. There’s nothing more infuriating than being told the meeting will finish at a certain time, only to be still sitting there 45 minutes later. This leads to frustration and a reluctance to attend future meetings. Productive meetings can be possible when you implement these simple techniques.

Meetings usually go with a swing in the right venue: contact &Meetings on 0800 073 0499 and we’ll help you find the ideal meeting rooms in London.


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