7 Tips to Make Your In-Office Meetings More Effective
Successful businesses understand the importance of professional collaboration. The more opportunities that teams have to work together, to share ideas and approach problems from different angles, the more creative, productive and unique resulting solutions are likely to be.
Hosting regular in-office meetings is a great way to support this habit, though the differences between productive meetings and unproductive meetings can be stark. It’s estimated that 24 billion hours and $37 billion are wasted each year as a result of unproductive meetings, with 65% of staff in agreement that poorly planned meetings prevent them from completing work.
In comparison, clear, concise and well-structured meetings can help teams to stay on track with complicated tasks and make the most efficient use of their time. To help management teams optimize this process, here are 7 tips to make your in-office meetings more effective.
For an in-office meeting to be effective, all participants must be engaged from the outset. Not all communications require a full meeting to get a point across, so leaders must carefully consider whether the information they wish to share may be better delivered by other means.
If a single decision needs to be made, it makes more sense to speak directly with a relevant decision-maker, while most general organizational and logistics updates may be better sent as an internal memo or email. Remember, your employees’ time is valuable, and removing them from their work to attend an unnecessary meeting might impact productivity elsewhere.
2. Create a clear meeting agenda
If you’re certain a meeting is necessary, you’ll need to define its purpose by setting a clear and concise agenda. Attendees should understand the purpose of a meeting as soon as it begins, so start by writing an introduction that defines the objectives you wish to accomplish.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What is the purpose of this meeting?
What actionable goals should be set?
Which employees would benefit from this meeting?
What should attendees take away from this meeting?
List out all each point you wish to cover and try to consolidate similar issues into five concise talking points. Organize these tasks from most to least important, and jot down the names of the specific employees each point refers to. Use these notes to keep your meetings on track.
3. Keep meetings short and simple
Research shows that 67% of employees feel spending too much time in meetings distracts them from doing their jobs. To make sure that meetings aren’t impacting overall productivity, it’s best to keep talking points short and simple, with clear objectives attached to each task.
While almost 60% of employees claim an average meeting lasts over 30 minutes, research suggests that engagement levels will drop by around 10% every 15 minutes. To make sure your meetings are effective, create a schedule that runs no longer than 15 minutes in total.
4. Involve everyone in the discussion
Another way to maximize engagement is to ensure every team member is involved in one way or another. Use your agenda notes to address specific employees when a talking point relevant to their work is brought up, this will create a collaborative and inclusive environment.
It’s also important to give feedback during discussions. It’s estimated that 30% of employees feel their ideas are shut down too quickly during meetings, this can lead to a loss of morale and engagement, so make sure to listen to their ideas and offer some constructive feedback.
5. Summarize each talking point
Opening the floor to discussions can impact your ability to stick to a predefined agenda, so it’s wise to prepare short summaries for each talking point to help move things forward. End each section with a bulleted list of actions you’ve all agreed on, take into account the ideas that employees have shared, and finalize these considerations by creating actionable goals.
6. Record and publish meeting minutes
Considering the US is home to some of the best cities for hybrid work and flexible schedules, it’s not always possible to hold meetings attended by all relevant parties. However, this issue can be mitigated by making a habit of recording and publishing detailed meeting minutes.
Using the agenda you prepared before the meeting as an outline, have a chosen employee record concise notes summarizing each talking point. Publish this document on a platform that’s accessible to all team members and send a link out as an email after each meeting.
7. Assign participants actionable goals
No matter how productive a meeting feels, it will only have been effective if staff leave with actionable goals they can work to achieve. A good meeting will end with a strong conclusion that combines all the talking points and new ideas that attending employees have discussed.
Each team member should be given a few objectives to complete between the end of this meeting and the start of the next, with a clear understanding of how these tasks are to be assessed. This will ensure staff walk away feeling accomplished, engaged and productive.
To hold an effective meeting, leaders must be well-prepared. Create a clear agenda only covering necessary information, keep talking points short and simple, make sure all team members are involved and set clear objectives for staff to work on in the immediate future.
Stickling to this outline will help to improve engagement, and ensure that employees feel respected and supported in their roles, making your in-office meetings much more effective.
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