Office meetings are one of the primary methods used to communicate information and execute on decisions; however, meetings can be inefficient, ineffective and tend to occupy a large amount of a company workday. If a meeting is slowing employee productivity, wasting resources and failing to improve communication across the company, steps should immediately be taken to make those meetings productive and valuable.
Preparation for an office meeting should begin long before everyone has gathered in the conference room. A meeting must have a specific intention and designed purpose, and making the objective(s) clear is the key facet in facilitating the group’s ability to reach the agreed upon goal. If you are the meeting sponsor, send the agenda and meeting materials in advance, clarify what is set to be accomplished and meet with key stakeholders prior to the meeting to present relevant information and avoid negative surprises.
Showing respect for a colleague and their values prior to meeting in person is necessary, and as a business leader, you should place significant worth in getting to know the departments you are working with, and you should continually make movements to form lasting business relationships with them.
Do you recall that agenda you prepared? A strong agenda makes conducting a meeting easy, and now is the time to put it to use. A meeting sponsor should always remain conscious of time to effectively deliver commitments throughout the presentation, and a well employed agenda will offer clear durations for topics and activities. Staying on task during a meeting will help you to be respectful of everyone’s time, provide a clear focus on results, and help to generate the right conversations.
Assign specific roles for a timekeeper and a designated note taker who will be responsible for creating action items for each member, address one conversation at a time and minimize gadgets and multi-tasking. A meeting sponsor can have a positive impact on every meeting by reiterating expectations, allowing each person to speak, asking questions that pertain to the task, and through guiding teams to resolve issues that keep everyone moving forward. Always remember to never finish a discussion in a meeting without deciding how to act on it.
It is common for attendees to leave the same meeting with different interpretations of what occurred and what collective decisions were made for progression. To reduce uncertainty or confusion, you should prepare and send out copies of the meeting notes within 24 hours to ensure that the product of the meeting is captured and fresh in everyone’s mind. This helps reiterate assignments, serves as an accountability check for future reference and ensure that everyone is aligned to effectively make progress. Make a note of items that require action or raise questions, contact the appropriate people and make sure that everyone knows their respective tasks.
As the office meeting sponsor, always take some time to reflect on the meeting itself and how you can create great habits for facilitating successful meetings in the future.