Making the Most of Meeting Time

Meetings can take away valuable time from your team.  Here are 5 areas to consider for getting the most out of group meetings.

Mtng tips

Staff and project meetings can be time hogs.  Whether you are on a phone conference or face-to-face, distractions happen and conversations inevitably veer off to tangents.  Although there can be real value in the tangents and variations in topics, it is important to stay focused to make the most of your meeting time.  Here are 5 ways to make your meetings more efficient and productive:

Action Items – Every meeting should result in at least one or two action items from each agenda topic.  If a topic is not ready for an action, then it is not agenda worthy. Even if the next step is in the concept phase, there should be an executable action item and expected results.  Make sure that each action has a clear goal and that it is assigned to the appropriate person. Once it is in the realm of responsibility for a team member, they will add it to their priorities. Each item should have definitive deadlines, clear follow-up procedures and expectations for how results will be reported.

Don’t Wait on Late – Who hasn’t endured phone conferences where a solid 15 minutes is dedicated to assessing who is on the line and waiting for all callers to chime in?  Depending on the number of meetings you have each week, those delays can lead up to hours lost each month.  To save time and respect the time of others, start the meeting promptly and on schedule.  For those who join the meetings late, you may consider having a live document available for viewing.  Simply have the person taking minutes jot down each action item or outcome into a live doc, and as members join the meeting, they can quickly catch up on the important highlights.  Many of the online meeting apps have such capabilities built-in, but for other meetings, Google Docs, Word Online and various project management apps will do the trick.  For those who attended or missed the meeting, make sure minutes are made available in a timely manner.

Assign Moderators Wisely – The moderator is more than just the person who connects the call or conducts the icebreakers and introductions. The moderator is the key to facilitating the meetings, organizing the thought process and getting topics moving in a direction that keeps the meeting on track. Make sure your moderator knows how to stay on task and can redirect individuals when necessary.  Without a strong moderator, the entire meeting may be a waste of time or simply run into unnecessary overtime.

Change It Up – To keep regular meetings from going stale, consider changing things up.  Try a new location or a new format.  It is a well-known fact that a change of scenery can reduce stress, and less stressful meetings can also lead to more productivity. Adding new ways to open meetings and new places to meet enables your team to gain a fresh perspective and be more engaged.  Also, consider alternating meeting moderators; by putting the responsibility of leading the meeting in a new lap, you may just find a new shining star and be surprised by how the group dynamic can change and lend itself to new ideas.

Require Results – This one goes back to action items.  For every action item there should be an expected result and follow-up.  Do not let action items fall through the cracks.  Every team member should leave with a responsibility and return with results.  When reporting, everyone should stick to their allotted timeframes; if additional time is needed, schedule to meet at a later date with only the individuals involved on a given task.

Meetings are essential to building a cohesive team and making sure everyone is in the loop on business matters.  By staying focused, offering new environments and holding individuals accountable for results, you may find that team meetings can change from a time-wasting obligation to a productive asset and relief.

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