Wasting time in meetings?
Meetings can be such time wasters. You get to a meeting on time and wonder when it’s going to start because half the people haven’t shown up. You go through the meeting not exactly sure why you’re there and what you can contribute. And it drags on and you’re not even talking about work, you’re chatting about the last vacation your colleague had. It makes you want to bolt out the door, leave work and lie on a sandy beach to forget it all.
You can have productive meetings. Here are a few techniques that will make meetings go smoothly.
Get Your Technology In Order-Technology and getting everyone set up so they can call or video in always seems to cause a meeting to be late. Make sure all the technology is set up in advance of the meeting. Do a dry run and make sure that everyone can be connected quickly and easily. Have a tech person on hand to help out if any issues occur so you can get the meeting running on time.
Clear It Up or Clear It Off-If you are asked to be in a meeting you do have the option to opt out of it. Ask the person leading what the goal of the meeting is, how they see you as helpful. Be clear on the ways you can help achieve that goal. Having that clarity will allow you to make an informed decision. Will you be able to contribute in a meaningful way? Or do you need to clear it off your schedule because it is a waste of time.
Don’t look to the future, look back-Most people scan ahead to see what meetings they can get out of. Instead, look at the past and see what meetings were unproductive and look to ways to improve them. Were there meetings that you could have sent someone else from the company? Were there meetings you didn’t need to attend? Would attending be a time waster? Analyze your attendance and drop meetings that aren’t supporting the work you do.
Recently I did this with a client and we were able to remove seven meetings off their calendar. This freed up over seven hours of time allowing them to work on higher priority tasks.
Take A Stand-I’m betting this is what happens to you for some of your meetings-you print the agenda minutes before the meeting starts and rush to get there. You show up unprepared, unable to give thoughtful advice. The discussions and topics are haphazard and not well thought out.
Make sure to get the agenda in advance, review the topics and do the research you need to show up and contribute. If the agenda isn’t available or the meeting leader didn’t create one, opt out or get clarity. You are probably wasting your time in an unfocused and rambling meeting.
What can be energizing and can make meetings interesting IS to be prepared. Look for the conflict, look at different ways of approaching the topics and issues, look at bringing in your ideas and thoughts. Engage the group and have lively discussions.
Take Action-Make sure the discussions create action. What action do we need to take to move this forward? How can we keep the project moving? What direction can we take with this? Those questions will lead to action and that’s what you want out of a meeting-ACTION. Make sure that someone in the meeting is recording who is taking the action and when the action needs to be completed. Follow up is crucial to not letting anything slip through the cracks.
Celebrate In Your Success-It can be difficult to come to a consensus. It can be difficult to tease out the next actions. When you do execute and complete actions and projects, celebrate in your success.
Try these tips. If you still struggle with ways to make your meetings run smoothly and want more information on ways you can make your meetings more productive, join me at the Phoenix Public Library on August 24 at 6:30. I’ll be presenting on ways you can make meetings more efficient and effective. Sign up http://www.phoenixpubliclibrary.org/hive/calendar
Margo Crawford is a Productivity Expert and Certified Coach with Wave Productivity. She works with entrepreneurs, small business owners and business professionals to help them get more focused, organized and productive in their workplace. She serves clients through phone coaching and in person in Phoenix, Providence and Boston. If you want to get more organized in your office call 602-677-8275 or email [email protected]