Meetings can easily jam-pack your calendar before you know it, especially when they are a virtual Zoom call. It’s easy to jump from meetings back to back then at the end of the day, wondering what you’ve actually accomplished. Meetings, when not done well, are one of the biggest time-wasters at work. Here are five easy ways to improve meetings, so they are productive, well managed, and efficient.
Have an Agenda
No one wants to come to a meeting where the leader is unprepared, or there isn’t a clear-cut path for what the meeting is supposed to be accomplishing. This is why it’s vital to have an agenda for every meeting. An agenda lets everyone in the meeting know what will be covered. It should also be sent out before the meeting so the participants can review and prepare as needed.
An agenda also serves as a time management tool. Knowing how long the meeting is scheduled for and having general time allotted for each agenda item will help the meeting stay on track – and on time.
Cover Important Action Items First
Your agenda should list the most important action items as the first things to be discussed during the meeting. By covering the most important actions first, you will have covered the items that bring the most value to those involved in the meeting before time runs out.
Also, people tend to be more engaged at the start of a meeting so they’ll be more engaged in problem-solving of having critical conversations around these important issues.
Start and Stop On Time
If the meeting is scheduled to start at 11:00, but either someone hasn’t joined the Zoom room or has lost track of time at their work station, start the meeting at 11:00. Don’t make others who arrived on time wait for those who haven’t. Starting on time means jumping right into the agenda and action items.
It’s also important to end the meeting on time. Everyone is busy, and time is a valuable resource; when you’ve asked people to schedule time for a meeting, it’s important to respect that time by ending the meeting as scheduled. If everything that needed to be addressed isn’t, schedule another meeting but don’t keep people beyond what was scheduled.
Assign Specific Responsibilities for Action Items
If your meetings are all talk but no direction, nothing is going to happen to those action items. To make meetings efficient and productive, it’s important to assign people responsibilities and tasks around the action items.
Remember, when it comes to meetings, discussion, and agreement without assigned responsibility and deadlines is just a conversation. Everyone should walk away from the meeting knowing what they specifically need to do to keep the momentum going.
Finally, it’s crucial to have a designated note-taker during meetings. Having someone capture what is discussed, what is assigned, what the pain points continue to be, and then distributing that information back to the participants is a major key to making sure the momentum doesn’t end when the meeting does.
Make your meetings better by improving their effectiveness and efficiency by following these best practices. Prepare and send an agenda beforehand, cover the most important action items first, start and stop the meeting on time, assign specific responsibilities, and keep accurate notes to refer back to. These best practices will make meetings less of a pain point and more likely to actually get things accomplished.
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