Nothing kills productivity and breeds frustration more than meandering, directionless meetings. You know the kind – the meetings that pull your workers away from work that’s actually moving the company forward. The “this-should-have-been-an-email” type of meetings.
But with a little effort and a dash of creativity, you can kick off 2019 saying “new year, new meetings!” Check out these tips and some advice from presentation experts!
Have (and Keep) Focus
As the meeting host, setting an agenda is the easiest way to make meetings more productive. Include what the purpose of the meeting is, what items need to be discussed (and by whom), and lay out what goals need to be accomplished during the meeting. Type it up, and send it out to every participant well in advance of the meeting to allow everyone to prepare. This is especially important for any remote workers, who need often set their own schedule in advance and will need a bit extra notice in order to prepare and participate.
You can go even further and assign “pre-work,” as Sarah Beth Aubrey, A.C.T. Aubrey Coaching & Training, told Forbes. “Pre-work can be simple: Ask participants to provide key solutions, suggestions or examples before the meeting that can be aggregated and presented live. Then the in-meeting discussion is richer and likely more efficient.”
Set Actionable To-Do’s
If you end a productive meeting, but nobody knows what the next steps are or their role in accomplishing them, then the meeting was really a failure. Prevent this by assigning actionable, time-specific goals to all participants. Mark Toro, managing partner of North American Properties – Atlanta, a real estate operating company, told the Times that he uses the acronym “WWDWBW” to end meetings—”who will do what by when?” Applying this to your meetings means that everyone’s held accountable and everyone’s on the same page.
Flip the Script
Meetings are better when everyone participates, and feels like they have control over what’s happening. “Ignite the energy and what matters to people by asking, ‘What is most important to you right now in terms of team success?,” Tania Fowler of Interplay Coaching told Forbes. “Go around the room and have each person share their thoughts in 30 seconds or less. Write them down and have the team decide in what order the ideas have the most leverage, and then map out what it will take to accomplish them. Listen.”
Treat It Like a Performance
We’re not talking Michael Scott-type performances during meetings. But there are ways to keep the energy and interest going through the meetings. “Start with a focused attention getter that will put your meeting in context. Before going over your agenda, ask a provocative question, state an interesting statistic, or lead with a quote. This will wake up the creative part of listeners’ minds and lead to more engagement,” Robyn Hatcher of SpeakEtc. told Forbes.
Host The Meeting On Demand
This is a great hack to navigate tricky schedules. Rather than push a meeting out a few weeks or set a 7am wakeup call for one of your international colleagues, make your meeting On Demand! Record your meeting and share it out with anyone who couldn’t attend live. People can view the meeting on their own time, and send you feedback over email or instant message. Be sure to set expectations for follow up, so you get the responses you need to keep things moving.
Nothing will help get the creative juices flowing like eating or drinking during a meeting. So it never hurts to come prepared to your meetings with a little bribery and free food. If it’s an early morning meeting, bring in some bagels or pastries for participants to nosh on. Or if you’re gathering in the evening to tackle a deadline, bring some snacks for the group – or maybe even a bottle of wine if you need to do some creative brainstorming!
Get Out of Your Comfort Space
A change of scenery can get your team thinking differently, and will make your meetings a bit more exciting. Most cities have spaces and conference rooms teams can rent out (on the cheap) for meetings. If you have a long meeting or some team bonding to do, consider going offsite. Gathering in a conference room in a trendy hotel or a shared workspace can have your team feeling inspired and refreshed from the start.