Follow these tips for effective meetings
Meetings can be tedious for everyone involved if they are not properly planned and planned. On this issue, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a study in early 2022, which confirms that too many meetings are detrimental to productivity. In data, it states that companies that eliminated these meetings three days a week achieved 73% more productivity or a reduction in stress of 57%. In this regard, they recommend using tools such as Slack or Discord to keep employees connected during their working hours.
Even so, it is true that it will always be necessary to bring together several people or departments for a specific objective. The aim is to achieve effective meetings that do not take up workers' time when it comes to continuing with their tasks. Therefore, it is necessary to optimise every minute of the meetings to be more productive, but what should you do to make your meetings as effective as possible? Here are several recommendations that you can put into practice from now on.
General tips for effective meetings
Before sitting down at the meeting table, it is essential that the person in charge plans the content of the meeting and anticipates any problems that may arise. Here are four tips for the planning phase:
- set specific objectives that justify the meeting, which will help you formalise the topics to be discussed.
- convene only the essential attendees. Everyone should participate, have a specific role and be involved in the meeting: avoid the listener profile. The more attendees, the more difficult it will be to moderate the interventions and keep to time limits. As a general rule, it is recommended that there should be no more than six people at a meeting.
- determine the day, time and duration according to the particularities of the meeting. Not all meetings have the same characteristics. It is necessary to take into account the agendas of the attendees and establish the most appropriate times, with special attention to the start and end time. In this way, you anticipate the time needed for each topic, avoid stealing minutes of work from your colleagues and make it easier for it to be an effective meeting.
- send the meeting notice a week in advance and take minutes beforehand. In this way, you allow each employee to organise their working day and prepare in advance. In addition, you can include the necessary documentation in the minutes so that all attendees have access to it.
Once the planning has been established, it is time to conduct the meeting, which has different needs from the planning and therefore requires specific recommendations to help you achieve an effective meeting:
- the figure of the moderator is essential. One person should be in charge of optimising the development of the meeting, giving the floor, avoiding interruptions, offering equal treatment between workers when it comes to speaking and ensuring compliance with what has been agreed in the previous minutes (including the duration of the meeting).
- minutes of the meeting should be taken. Even if all attendees take individual notes, a common written record should be established that summarises the agreed actions as a whole, so that everyone involved in the decision-making process (even those who were not at the meeting) will have the information they need to meet the new objectives.
- a question and answer session at the end of the meeting is recommended in order to clear up any possible doubts.
Finally, once the meeting is over, it is important to analyse the results and check if the purposes established in the planning have been fulfilled. This work will be very useful for future meetings. In addition, the person in charge of writing the minutes should review them and send them as soon as possible. From then on, the new objective is to put into practice what was agreed in the meeting and work on it.
An increasingly widespread feature: online meetings
Since the COVID-19 confinement, virtual meetings have become the order of the day in most companies, which is why we are extending the advice already mentioned, taking into account the peculiarities of this type of meeting:
- choose the most appropriate platform. There are multiple tools for holding a remote meeting, so you should use the most appropriate one for all attendees or the one they feel most comfortable with. Some examples are: GoToMeeting, Zoom, Skype, Join.me or Jitsi.
- facilitate access to the meeting to ensure that everyone arrives on time. Avoid delays by remembering the time, link or platform.
- anticipate possible connection failures by having a second option of connecting to the Internet via your mobile device. Another recommendation is to facilitate access to the meeting by phone.
- avoid distractions by choosing the quietest and most appropriate location in your home to avoid disturbing noises.
what problems should you avoid?
Despite detailed and thorough planning, meetings always have an unpredictable side where various problems can arise. To avoid them or solve them as soon as possible, it is important to keep in mind the most common difficulties in these situations:
- lack of punctuality- try to have all attendees ready to start the meeting five minutes early.
- prolongation of time: Although the moderator will try to respect the timetable, it is everyone's responsibility not to stray from the topics to be discussed or disperse the conversation.
- negative attitudes: Meetings serve to provide feedback to each other and to enrich the work of the group. Attitudes that go against this, such as egocentrism or pride, should be kept out of the meeting.
- lack of material: in addition to arriving on time, in face-to-face meetings it is important to ensure that everything is ready to start at the stipulated time. It is important to avoid entering and leaving the room due to lack of documents or stationery. This does not mean that anyone who is careless should be punished, but it is necessary to anticipate the necessary materials in the previous minutes.
However, it should be borne in mind that it is not always necessary to call a meeting. New communication tools between employees make it possible to combine contact with your colleagues and your individual work. Even so, meetings are still very present in the day-to-day work of companies, and they should be as effective as possible to create a good working environment and improve productivity.