Meetings can be a point of stress for many employees. Having a meeting breaks up the work day and makes it impossible for many employees to get work done.
Have you ever had a meeting scheduled for 11 AM, but you finished your last task at 10:30 AM? What do you do with that 30 minutes you have to spare? Some people might work on a small job that takes less than 30 minutes, but what if you don’t have a task that fits in that window? Often that time is wasted time that could be better spent if meetings were laid out differently.
Meetings are essential for getting your team together and dispensing information quickly, but we’ve all been to a meeting that could have been sent in an email. Here are some practical tips for hosting productive meetings.
1. Hold Fewer Meetings
First and foremost one of the best meeting hacks is to hold fewer meetings. More than likely, your team doesn’t need to touch base with you in the form of a meeting every day. Instead of doing those daily meetings, implement the red light/green light system of checking on tasks. Have your employees check in with their progress on tasks digitally.
- If things are going smoothly, they can highlight the task in green.
- When they are feeling a bit stuck, they can highlight the task orange.
- When they feel like they are unable to complete the task without some significant help, they can highlight the task red.
As a manager, you’ll be able to handle your priorities in an obvious way. Instead of calling a meeting to get a progress report from everyone, this will be all online. Most online planning tools can handle this type of planning, or you can have a software engineer build out a program for your team to use.
There are ways to go about checking in without having a meeting. Meetings should be reserved for the most important things. If there are other systems you can create to cut down on meetings you should implement them.
2. Send Out Meeting Reminders
Even if you have regular meetings, your employees may still get lost in their work. If you want to be efficient and effective, be sure to send out meeting reminders. If your company uses Slack or some other form of communication, send out a message at the beginning of the work day and about 30 minutes before the meeting is set to happen. If you know some of your employees are notoriously late for meetings, go around about 30 minutes before and remind your stragglers.
Sending out meeting reminders may be an extra step for you as a manager, but it will make your meetings more productive. If you can start every meeting on time, your meetings will be more helpful to your employees. You don’t want to punish those who show up on time because you are always waiting on team members who show up late.
3. Put A Strict Time Limit On Meetings
There may be some meetings that require a longer time. For example, a quarterly planning meeting is probably going to take a few hours. A weekly meeting probably shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes to an hour depending on how large the group is.
Most of your meetings should be limited to 30 minutes. When your meeting limit is 30 minutes, you have to make sure that each comment matters. Ask your team members to provide extra commentary if it leads to the greater good of the entire team.
4. Limit The Number Of Comments/Questions Per Meeting Topic
Speaking of commentary, you’ll likely need to limit the number of comments/questions per meeting topic. How does this work? Well, instead of letting the entire team speak, you may want to limit each agenda item to 3-5 remarks. Limiting remarks will make sure that each statement is worth it. If your team doesn’t feel like their question is worth asking or it’s better asked privately, they will do so.
Remove The Ability To Ask Questions While Someone Is Speaking
What’s more frustrating than being cut off and asked a question that you were already prepared to answer? Removing the ability to ask questions while someone is speaking will allow your team members to express themselves before being bombarded with questions they may have already planned to answer.
Saving questions until the end is an excellent practice because it stops your team members from getting distracted and off target during their initial presentation or comment. Asking for clarification is always wanted, but there is a time and place for it.
5. Use An Agenda To Keep Members On Target
Last, but not least, use an agenda to keep your team members on target. Having an agenda available before your team meeting will allow your entire team to prepare. Going into a meeting blind is a surefire way for everyone to be unprepared, even those who know they are speaking. An agenda creates a game plan for your team. Schedules are also helpful for those who get antsy during meetings. Since everyone knows what’s next and what to expect, it can calm meeting jitters.
Make Sure Everything Discussed Is On The Agenda
It’s easy for a meeting to get sidetracked, but your goal is to stick to the agenda. If something comes up outside of the plan save it for the next meeting or send it out after the meeting in an email. Everyone should follow this rule, not just employees. Employers and CEOs need to follow the simple rule of only discussing what’s on the agenda.
If you have a weekly meeting every Wednesday, accept agenda topics until the EOD on Monday. On Tuesday morning create and send out your agenda for Wednesday’s meeting. Give everyone time to look it over and don’t change it once it’s sent out.
Meetings may be a source of stress for your employees, but they don’t have to be. There are ways to make meetings more productive, and we’ve discussed several techniques your company can use to make meetings more helpful.
If you want to make meetings productive, use the following tips:
- Host fewer meetings
- Send out meeting reminders
- Put a strict time limit on meetings
- Limit the number of comments/questions while others are speaking
- Use an agenda to keep the conversation on topic
Following these suggestions will allow you to create the best meetings that benefit everyone. How will you make your meetings more productive this week?
Do you need meeting hacks specifically for virtual meetings? Check out our recent resource that will help you create effective virtual meetings.