Meetings are seen as the third major time waster in the work place. 50% of the working time is spent in meetings. These can either be one-on one meetings or group meetings. Most people see this 50% of their time as wasted. However, meetings are not such time wasters if they can be planned and executed well. Meetings are basically business tools which are meant to exchange information and ideas, reviewing progress as well as solving problems. They thus must be managed and used effectively. There are several ways in which efficiency in a meeting can be increased as well as the improvement of the results. These include;
Assess if the meeting is really necessary
Most meetings turn out to be unnecessary. There are other ways that one can achieve the same goal. This can be through the circulation of a memo to pass the information, a conference call can be made, speaking to people individually as well as postponing the meeting to a time where you are expected to have another meeting (Whitehead Jr, 1984).
Read also Critical Thinking : Ensuring That Meetings Lead To Action
If a meeting is not necessary, you should avoid having it as much as possible. If the meeting is necessary, you should ask yourself whether you really have to attend the meeting all the same. If you find it not beneficial for you, do not attend it after all. If someone else may not benefit from attending that meeting, inform the person as well.
If you have made an establishment that the meeting is indeed necessary to attend, be sure to make an establishment of a very clear purpose of the meeting and hence write an agenda for the meeting (Doyle, & Straus, 1976). For time management, it is important to write a one-paragraph statement that is able set explain well the purpose of the meeting. For example, you can start with a statement, “we are having this meeting in order to achieve this particular goal.” After this, write down the exact objective of the meeting.
Make out a list of everything that needs to be covered. Next to every item, you should ensure that you state every person that is expected to carry out every task. Distribute the agenda early enough so that every person is aware of the task they are to undertake in time.
Be able to start the meeting and stop it in time
Set a schedule of the clear time to start and end the meeting. If the meeting is supposed to start at 10 and end at 11, you should ensure that the meeting starts at 10 and ends at 11 on the dot. The worst meetings are the ones that start at the exact time but do not have a clear ending time.
Another rule to add to this, it is good not to wait for the latecomer. Make an assumption that the latecomer is not coming at all and start the meeting without them. It is normally unfair to punish the people who have arrived early to wait for a person who doesn’t know how to keep time. Most companies have developed a strict policy of locking the door from inside once the meeting starts. The latecomers are thus not allowed inside the room. This will ensure they never come late the next time.
Be able to go through the important items first.
When writing up an agenda, be sure to apply the 80/20 rule (Whitehead Jr, 1984). Ensure that the top 20% of the important issues are covered first. If you run out of time, you will have already covered the most pressing issues.
Make a summary of each conclusion.
When you make a discussion of an item in a meeting, make a summary of the discussion and get a closure. Ensure each item gets a discussion and a completion before going to any other issue at hand (Doyle, & Straus, 1976). Restate what has been concluded and agreed on every item before proceeding to the next item at hand.
Assign a specific responsibility
If a decision has been made, assign responsibilities for all the specific actions that have been agreed upon and set the deadlines as well. Keep it in mind that a discussion and an agreement without the assignment of the responsibilities turns out to be merely a conversation (Doyle, & Straus, 1976). Be very clear about who is going to do what and by when.
Keep the notes and circulate the minutes
A very key way to getting maximum effectiveness from a meeting is to ensure that you keep accurate notes as well as circulation of minutes within 24 hours of the meeting if possible. Keeping accurate minutes can be of much help if a misunderstanding arises later (Whitehead Jr, 1984). The minutes can be produced to provide clarification. Agendas which are prepared in advance and followed by accurate meetings afterwards ensure that every person is clear about their responsibilities as well as the deadlines set.
Other very key aspects that can make meetings productive are; turn- taking whereby a member speaks only when it is their turn to speak and give a chance to others to speak as they wait for their turn. Additionally, members in a meeting should only speak when they have something sensible and not speaking just to be heard.
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