By: Len Adams, CPC, CSP

We have all been there: the meeting is scheduled to last thirty minutes, but the executive shows up late and the team will not start until they arrive, forty-five minutes later everything but the actual topic for the meeting has been discussed, and half the room is comprised of people who have no say in the matter and are just “silently observing”. This is the reason that everyone dreads face-to-face meetings and has led to the rise of the email and phone team discussions. Here are some easy ways to organize meetings that will be both time efficient and help the team tackle problems.

  • Start on time and end on time- Employees are busy, and they usually have to run from one meeting to the next while finding time in between to do their actual work. They do not have time to waste waiting for everyone in the room to get their coffee or for catching up on how the weekend went. The meeting is scheduled to start at 1:30 then everyone is seated and ready to start at 1:30. If the most important person is late, it’s even more important to start on time because everyone else can make it on time and so can they.
  • Have a purpose for the meeting- This can be in the form of an agenda, but overall just a clearly defined purpose for the meeting. Having a clear goal for the meeting allows the team to focus on the task at hand and know if they have done their job. Creating a purpose also prevents time being wasted trying to pick a topic to work on and can direct the flow of the meeting so you do not spend half of it trying to decide who goes next. This is such a simple thing to do but it can really affect the duration and effectivity of your meeting.
  • Everybody in the meeting is there to actually participate- People are not there to listen they either have a say in the matter or they do not need to be in the meeting. When executives sit in the meeting to listen, it gives a feeling that they do not trust you are doing work or your ability to do it well. It is imperative that the employees are confident that upper management and executives trust their skills and that they do not need to be babysat while at work.
  • Somebody has to take notes- Afterwards assemble them and send them out. Especially if decisions were made, or actions were assigned. This will prevent a million emails being sent reminding everyone about what they signed up for in the meeting.
  • Stick to the topic- Do not allow the excuse of having all the right people in the room to warrant talking about another topic. If a meeting ends early, then let it end early. The meeting has a purpose, so that time should be spent on tackling that issue and not a catch-all for every topic that the team wants to discuss.

Here is a bonus tip to help organize a better meeting:

If at all possible, make it face to face- Well over half of communication is non-verbal and people listening on phone calls cannot get the full message. Face to face meetings are more efficient and effective than phone conferences or email.

Do not continue to let meetings be a drain on time and resources; use these tips to organize meetings that get the job done!

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