This article comes from Entrepreneur.
Meetings that fail to deliver any valuable insights, goals or actions are a waste of time. But what can businesses do to make their meetings more meaningful and productive?
“The question I ask myself … almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?’” This quote from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg highlights just how crucial it is to focus on setting and achieving goals, even if only on a day-by-day basis. And this is as true of creating meaningful meetings as anything else in the workplace.
Every meeting is an opportunity to identify problems and define solutions. Even the shortest, simplest meetings must have a goal. There’s no point in gathering employees together for an hour twice a week if nobody has an issue to discuss or an objective to achieve. Identifying a clear goal and defining key discussion points will maximize productivity. Sitting down with only a vague idea and no actionable suggestions, on the other hand, may lead to meandering, meaningless conversation.
Once a meeting’s core focus is defined, only those people with the relevant insights, expertise, and experience should be invited. Employees with no real value to contribute may become bored and lose time they could spend better elsewhere. All invited parties should be sent an agenda and key discussion points and challenges to be addressed. This gives them time before the meeting to consider ideas and ensure they’re focused when they arrive.
Inviting one attendee to act as a moderator helps to keep meetings focused and on-track. They can review topics covered, remind everyone of those still to be discussed and move the conversation on if it strays into irrelevant areas. But another key advantage of appointing a moderator is having someone ready to assume control of the meeting stalls. They should understand the core objectives of each meeting and help inspire new ways to look at the issues being discussed.
A blog post at Meeting Tomorrow hits the nail on the head: “Meetings work best if everyone is allowed to contribute. If no one offers any ideas, [it’s] the moderator’s job to try brainstorming techniques to help come to a decision on a topic.” Moderators can end meetings by reminding attendees of the next one scheduled and distributing notes on the main points and solutions raised.
One of the simplest ways to address sticking points is to request those affected resolve issues at another time. Otherwise, in-depth discussions unrelated to the meeting’s goals can lead to digressions and waste other participants’ time. Alternatively, a point may be too complex to solve during the slot allocated for the meeting or without access to specific tools. Again, a waste of everyone’s time. An effective solution is to record all relevant details and invite those involved to collaborate online after the meeting. This isn’t ignoring sticking points. It’s transferring the conversation to a more appropriate time and place to increase productivity.
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