mBox Blog

When you have a busy work schedule, the last thing you need is to have your day interrupted by unproductive meetings. It’s even worse if you have to spend considerable time travelling to attend what turns out to be a pointless meeting!

While meetings can serve a good purpose, all too often they can be poorly managed, or even unnecessary. In some cases, other forms of communication can suffice – such as email, virtual meetings, phone calls, or online file share.

Here’s how to end the pain of rambling meetings, and get them back on point for everyone’s benefit.

Some do’s, don’ts and maybes of meetings

The do’s:

  1. Establish what the objectives of the meeting are – examples might include to share or exchange information, to network, or to develop an action plan. If there are no clear objectives, consider whether it is worthwhile holding a meeting at all.
  2. Limit the duration of meetings. This can work towards making the meeting more efficient, as opposed to letting it drag out.
  3. Send documents, agenda and background material beforehand to save time. This can be done using file share software, and setting up fax to email.
  4. Be clear about the format of the meeting – e.g. a presentation followed by questions, a round table discussion and so on.
  5. Determine beforehand what the role of participants will be. For example, decide who will be responsible for taking minutes and so on.
  6. Keep the meeting on-track. If chit-chat goes on, make sure to bring people’s attention back to the topic at hand.
  7. Allow participants the opportunity to speak or share, but put a time limit in place for discussion.

The don’ts:

  1. Don’t wait for stragglers. Being consistently late to meetings is very bad etiquette! It’s also unfair on those who are punctual to wait around for latecomers.
  2. Don’t put people on the spot if you wish them to share information. Let them know in advance what is expected of them, so they can prepare.

The maybe:

  1. Cull your meetings. More participants often equals more time, so consider whether some people could benefit from simply reading the outcomes of the meeting afterwards rather than attending.
  2.  

Alternatives to live meetings

Sometimes a meeting may be required, but is not practical, and this is where modern technology comes in. Virtual meetings can provide a number of savings in terms of money and time, especially for those who need to travel to attend.

Options include instant messaging, teleconferencing, GoToMeeting software, Skype, file sharing, wikis (collaborative communities), and e-faxes. Some software for meetings can also generate a transcript which makes minute-taking unnecessary.

The downside to this is that there can be an energy that comes from live meetings that can be very beneficial and motivating if you want to use the meeting to generate ideas. It really depends on the objectives you want to achieve in your meeting as to the format that will work best.

Checklist for keeping meetings on track

To summarise:

  • Establish the objectives for the meeting.
  • Plan the meeting well in advance.
  • Share all necessary information and files before the meeting.
  • Limit the duration of meetings.
  • Stick to the agenda.
  • Consider whether other forms of communication might be more efficient for your purposes than a face-to-face meeting.

And lastly, consider whether you really actually need a meeting. You might find that it isn’t necessary at all!

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