Many companies suffer from meeting “burnout.” The bandage many of them grab on to is reducing the number of meetings. But that’s not smart. In a world of accelerating innovation and change, in a world where you need to lead through others, more communication is needed, not less. The key is in more crisply managed meetings. I used to have a daily management team meeting. We started at 8 a.m.; we ended at 8:30. A lot can get done in thirty minutes.
Here are three of the practices that we teach:
- Take ownership of the agenda. Before the meeting, decide what topics to cover, what decisions need to be made, and the time required. Send out the agenda in advance, along with any background material. During the meeting, remember the following mantra. “Make sure we’re having the conversation we need to have.” When people digress, jump in and reclaim the agenda. No one will be offended; on the contrary, people will be grateful for your leadership.
- Achieve closure. Before you move on to the next item, make sure you’ve achieved the outcome you wanted. If an action step has been identified, make sure everyone understands. Clarify the next steps. Decide on who’s going to communicate the results of the discussion. Make sure everyone is clear on their role.
- Keep a written record. You should always provide a follow-up email reminding people what was decided. This becomes a fail-safe way to check later to ensure that the necessary actions have occurred. It’s invaluable for monitoring performance. Plus, you’ll never have to waste people’s time trying to remember what you did at the last meeting!
Effective meeting management is more than a discipline; it’s a way of thinking about value. “How can I optimize the value of our meeting time? What can we improve next time?” It may seem counterintuitive, but companies typically need more meetings—but of shorter duration.
Download the PDF – Managing Effective Meetings
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