So many tricks and tips for conducting “a well-run meeting” are out there, many of them with contradicting information. A basic Google search pulls up more than a million hits on the subject.
Before you take drastic measures to change your meeting style, there are several things to consider:
- Meeting size. Some people recommend keeping meetings as small as possible to avoid wasting time and some will recommend having as many people as possible attend the meeting to get input from multiple departments and levels. My opinion on meeting size varies on topics discussed. An all-staff or department meeting should include all staff or the whole department. Specific event or project based meetings should likely only include those employees working on the event or project. A lesson in common sense on this one.
- To have or not to have an agenda. I’m a big fan of always having an agenda, whether it be formal or not. A timed agenda is great for big groups as groups are easily distracted which will lead to longer meetings. If you are running a meeting with 2 – 3 other people, having a mental agenda will help you, the meeting holder, accomplish what needs to happen. How will you make the meeting efficient and respect your colleagues’ time?
- Watching the clock. Speaking of agendas, be considerate of people’s time. I grapple with late meeting attendees and whether to wait on them to start the meeting so everyone doesn’t have to repeat themselves. And, ultimately, that’s not fair to those who show up for the meeting on time. Of course, if the client or CEO is late to the meeting, you wait while still trying to end the meeting on time. The old adage “showing up is half the battle” is missing the key phrase “on-time”!
- Follow up. I’ve left so many meetings wondering “Okay, what do I do now?” which is partially on me for not asking but also partially on the meeting holder for not assigning tasks, dates or sending a follow-up email with that information. How will you tell attendees next steps?
If you find yourself attending, or scheduling, meeting after meeting, ask yourself what you can do to make the time more effective. I would never recommend that you decline meetings with your boss or CEO because “you have too meetings on your calendar”…that probably wouldn’t go over well. But ask yourself if you can approach your boss about how to make the meeting efficient for both of you and, ultimately, your company or the client.