If you find that your meetings aren’t turning out to be as productive as you want, then you’re likely committing some rookie mistakes. When you waste your employees’ time on an ineffective meeting, you’re taking away time they could have spent doing something useful for your company. If you want to improve how you run meetings, avoid these four cardinal sins of workplace meetings.
- Not using visuals
People are more likely to retain information when it’s presented to them visually. If you’re only calling the meeting to request quick project updates or discuss a company emergency, then you can get away with just talking. However, if you’re proposing a new product or service, you need to prepare a well-designed slide deck. Invest in better presentation equipment for your meeting room, like a projector on the ceiling and a laser pointer. You can even go the extra mile and purchase an interactive flat panel display. Always send your slides in advance to prepare people for the meeting. By providing them the material, they can formulate questions in advance so the meeting can proceed faster.
- Inviting too many people
Some people think that it’s important to have as many people as possible attend a meeting. However, having too many people in the room will drag on the meeting for longer than necessary and waste more people’s time. Let’s say, for example, you have six projects, each led by two people. Instead of calling a meeting with twelve attendees plus yourself, you can hold two smaller meetings. This smaller crowd is more manageable for a single moderator while still allowing for a collaborative atmosphere.
- Failing to clarify the agenda
By making the purpose of the meeting clear from the moment you schedule it, all the invited parties can adequately prepare their discussion points. Before the meeting starts, outline the agenda and, if possible, indicate a time limit for each topic to ensure that you can cover all of them before the end of the meeting. At the end of the meeting, concisely summarize everything that’s been discussed and reiterate any deliverables and deadlines.
- Letting people go on a tangent
While it may seem rude to cut someone off when they’re speaking, understand that you may have a limited amount of time to cover everything on the agenda. If one or two people start a topic that isn’t up for discussion, politely remind them that there’s an agenda and a time limit and that maybe this concern may be addressed at another time. By keeping people on track, it keeps everyone focused on the main objectives of the meeting.
Meetings have a terrible reputation for being useless time sinks, but that doesn’t have to be the case. When you hold more effective and productive meetings, you’ll find that your workplace will thrive exponentially. Discern when it’s necessary to hold a meeting and when it isn’t. Remember that text, email, and messaging apps might get you the answers you need without taking out too much time from you or your employees’ day.