It’s one of the most recognized clichés in the business world; long, pointless meetings. But as much as it’s become an ongoing joke, there is some truth to it. We’ve all sat through meetings that seem completely unnecessary and eat away at valuable work time. It can be frustrating so when it comes time that you’re running a meeting you want to ensure it is indeed worth everyone’s time. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your meetings.
Have a clear and concise message.
For your meeting to be deemed a success, everyone should leave it knowing exactly what message you were trying to communicate. Too often, people focus on the talking points rather than the overall message. Before you begin planning anything, develop your message as clearly and concisely as possible. Start with a vague message and than continue you to cut it down more and more until you can describe your message in one short sentence.
Make a detailed outline.
Once you message is identified, it’s time to outline the whole thing. This is where you’ll spend a good chunk of your time. You want to develop a few main point that are clear and each relating back to your overall message. Think about what the most important information is that you need to convey, identify concepts that might need a little more explaining, and consider where the others can add their two cents. The more detail you put into your outline, the more likely you’ll be to stay on course and save yourself from wasting time.
Don’t be afraid to be conversational.
While the type of planning that goes into your messaging might be similar to if you were giving a speech, conducting a meeting should be a much more interactive. Meetings are usually kept to a relatively small group and you should take advantage of such opportunities. Allow your colleagues to interject with questions and comments. Some of this material can be a bit dry and if it feels like they’re in a seminar, your audience will likely tune out at times. Allowing for a more conversational meeting means they will absorb more and clarifications can be made if needed.
But stay on topic.
While allowing for more interaction in your meetings is a good idea, meetings can very easily get out of control once everyone wants to be heard. Everyone has their own opinions and there are other matters they think need to be discussed and this kind of loose atmosphere condones itself to chatting about unrelated subjects. It’s your job as the one running the meeting to bring everything back on track. When someone veers onto another issue, address it but then maneuver the conversation back on to your talking points before it has time to get away from you.
Take notes when it’s all over.
As with anything, the more you do it the better you’ll be at it. But one of the reason that practice makes perfect is that being able to review your work means you can than improve on it. once the meeting is done, take some time to make some notes about what worked and what didn’t. Once you have a solid and comprehensive review of the meeting, you can then move on to the final step…
Change things up.
Don’t be afraid to make changes where needed. If people are leaving your meeting without a solid grasp on your message, try some new techniques in how you form your message. If you find your meetings are starting to go longer than they previously did, make some adjustments. And be able to adapt your style to your different audiences. Just because it worked once, doesn’t mean it is perfection.