How to plan more efficient and effective meetings – Sally Prescott

By devadmin

What will you learn from your meetings today?

Have you ever sat down in a meeting, only to be met with a deafening silence from the rest of the room? You know, the kind of silence that says ‘I don’t know what this meeting is about’ or ‘I haven’t a clue what I’m here for’. Someone called the meeting but didn’t think to set an agenda, appoint a chair or share the purpose of the meeting.

Meetings about meetings

These must be the most frustrating type of meeting! We’ve all been there and squirmed as the clock ticks by and nothing is achieved. There’s always plenty of discussion, but no meeting structure and no actions as a result.

Your time is precious. Meetings can eat into your daily schedule if you let them. Before you know it, the day has gone and you haven’t actually achieved anything.

How to plan efficient and effective meetings

The key to holding more productive and constructive meetings is in the planning. From the moment you send your meeting invitation, be clear about the reason for holding the meeting and the outcomes you’re expecting. Communicating your purpose and goals is the first step.

Get the right people in the room

Do you really need two people from accounts when one would suffice? Who are the decision makers, the people with the facts or data, and who are the ‘doers’ who will leave the room and get things done.

Set an agenda

Be clear about what you want to gain from the meeting so the participants come prepared. For example, if it’s a one-to-one development meeting, you might ask the employee to prepare their thoughts on how they have progressed since your last meeting, or to gather some performance feedback from colleagues. Team meetings might have a regular schedule that enables everyone to speak. Ad hoc meetings are much more efficient when there’s a structure in place rather than it being a free-for-all event. Meetings will often be shorter, freeing up your time to carry out the rest of your responsibilities.

Be clear about actions and outcomes

To make the most of every meeting you have, whether one to one or group, you must explain exactly what you expect to see as a result of the meeting. Be clear about your ‘call to action’. What information do you want the other person or people to leave the room with, and what are they going to do as a result?

Follow up

Share the action points or minutes if it’s a formal meeting. Set deadlines for follow up. How will you know if the information has been received and actioned as expected? When people can see you’re getting results from meetings, they’ll be more likely to engage with you in future.

My tips for more productive meetings

  • Preparation is key – always have a win-win mindset.
  • Keep your message clear and concise and keep checking that the other meeting participants understand what you’re saying.
  • Choose the most effective method for sharing your information, e.g. visuals, demonstrations, talking through each stage step by step.
  • Set others up for success - be clear what you need the other participants to share at the meeting so they can feel confident and make a full contribution.
  • Establish some meeting ground rules to be agreed by the group. They may take a while to get used to but will keep everyone focused and on track.
  1. As a starter for ten:
  2. Only one person speaks at a time
  3. Keep to the point
  4. Discussion between two people may need to be taken outside of the meeting.
  5. Establish a conclusion and actions, e.g. John will share the required information on email by 17th June.

Boost meeting efficiency with these alternative formats 

  • Hold a standing meeting to encourage people to get to the point and avoid getting too comfortable.
  • Perhaps more controversial, how about a meeting without refreshments. People are less likely to linger if there’s no tea, coffee or biscuits available!

What techniques do you use to help with this?

If you have any tools or tips of your own on how to make meetings more efficient and effective, please share them in the comments below. And next time you go to a meeting and there’s a deathly silence, why not step up and take control – you might even find you enjoy it.