Most business people that you talk to want to be more productive. For many of us a huge chunk of our day is taken up by meetings. Whether these are with your internal team or external, they should be both efficient and productive.  Here are 10 ways to make your business meetings more productive.

What does that entail? One tip: Send out an agenda at least 24 hours in advance. Here is our definitive guide to running the best business meetings:

 

1. Ask yourself, is the meeting really necessary?

Question meetings and whether the same outcome could be achieved in other ways; either conference calls, shared documents or utilise online meeting software. On average management will be involved in 12 meetings per week, many of which could be handled differently our avoided all together. Reducing the number of wasted meetings will, in itself, increase productivity.

2. Circulate the agenda in advance.
Send round an agenda at least 48 hrs in advance and include a summary as to what is to be discussed and the objective of the session. This will allow every participant enough time to prepare and create a sense of responsibility about a quality outcome. Additionally advance preparation will often result in shorted, more focused meetings.

3. State agenda items as questions.
Rather than just listing agenda items as bullet points, state them as questions. This a highly effective way to stimulate thinking and creativity, as most of us like to challenge a question and want to answer it!

4. Don’t sit down, stand up.
There have been a lot of theories about this, but it’s a proven method to create energy and engagement. Utilise white boards or flip charts to get the ideas flowing and illustrate outputs. When people stand rather than sit, they focus on the topic at hand, making meetings go faster.

5. Start meetings at random times.
Rather than start a meeting on the hour, say 2pm start it at a seemingly random time; 2.05pm. Make sure the meeting starts dead on this time. This will set a culture and prevent wasted time waiting for late arrivals.

6. Set a finish time.
Don’t just set a start time for meetings, set a finish time as well and make sure everyone is aware of it and you stick to it. This will make sure the conversations are focused on the high value outputs, cutting through the meaningless ‘noise’ and delivering the output that you want.

7. Cover important items first.
Apply the 80/20 rule when writing up the meeting agenda. Ensure the most important 20% is covered off first. Adopting this approach means that even if you run out of time, you will still have covered the elements that represent the greatest value of the meeting.

8. Take notes and circulate immediately.
This may sound basic but it’s crucial to moving things forward. Accurately capture the actions. Make them time bound and allocate to an individual. If you are using something like Basecamp you can even do this ‘live’ without disrupting the flow of the session. Things move along at a pace when everyone is clear about their agreed-upon responsibilities and deadlines.

9. Be open and honest.
Create an environment and facilitate a session where everyone is prepared to be open and honest surrounding all topics of discussion. Great discussions require everyone to be willing to share honest thoughts and robust opinions. There will be disagreements, but this helps cut through to the important stuff.

10. Allocate time at the end for a ‘wash-up’.
Use 5 minutes at the end of each session to ensure that everyone is aware of their expected deliverables. This will mean all attendees leave focused on the same goals, clear as to what is needed to be done and positive the meeting has been a worthwhile use of their time.

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