What would you do with an extra hour in your day?
I’m guessing your answer wasn’t, “I’d love to spend it in a meeting.” All of us have many important things vying for our time. That’s one reason it can feel so frustrating when our time gets eaten up in required meetings – especially meetings that weren’t productive, or that we shouldn’t have been in, in the first place.
There are three key things you can do, as a meeting facilitator, to make meetings more effective…and hopefully, shorter:
- Grab attention from the start
- Empower all participants to express their opinions
- Adopt a goal-oriented approach
Grab attention from the start
What happens when the facilitator starts the meeting by reading the agenda – the one you already read when it was emailed to you? Chances are, you start to zone out.
Kicking it up a notch: How can you start your meeting with a bang? Tell an interesting story that will get people thinking about the topic of the meeting. Ask a question. Present a surprising statistic. Tell a joke. The goal is to get people engaged right away, so that they are fully present when you turn to the subject at hand.
Empower all participants to express their opinions
We’ve all been in that meeting dominated by the same 2-3 people. Even if the topic is relevant to you, you can’t help but wonder what you’re doing there, since your input clearly won’t be heard. Everyone – not just the chattiest attendees – should express their opinions and participate in decision-making.
Kicking it up a notch: Find ways to ensure that everyone has a voice. Go around the room and ask for everyone’s opinion, in a half-sentence. Brainstorm in smaller groups. Get a sense of the temperature in the room through a poll. But whatever you do, send the message that you are looking to hear from everyone.
Adopt a goal-oriented approach
The unstated goal of many meetings is to discuss the agenda until time runs out. But in a “product-oriented” meeting, you declare your objectives – i.e., agreeing on a budget, or determining everyone’s responsibilities in an upcoming product launch – and when those objectives are reached, the meeting is over – even if you are done 10, 20, or 30 minutes early.
Kicking it up a notch: At the start of each meeting, communicate the key decisions that need to be made. Write them on the whiteboard. When the decisions have been made, check them off. When everything is checked, everyone can leave.
These tips are just the first steps toward improving your meetings. Own The Room’s newest product, Meeting Mastery, incorporates all of these tips, and much more, in a 4-hour interactive training that teaches participants how to make meetings more productive, organized and engaging. Learning and implementing these skills will help you spend less time in your next meeting and give yourself more time for everything else on your plate.