Six Ways to Make Your Meetings More Productive

Organizations must improve their ability to have productive meetings to be more successful. How can managers help meetings go more smoothly?

Meetings take up a lot of our time at work, but how much do they really accomplish? According to the Korn Ferry study, meetings rarely achieve what they set out to achieve. Additionally, more than two-thirds (67%) of employees report that spending too much time in meetings and on the phone prevents them from having an effective workday.

Organizations must improve their ability to have productive meetings to be more successful. This topic has been of great interest in recent years. Are we getting better at our meetings and getting them to produce what we set out to create? So what can leaders and managers do to help achieve better meeting results?

The Front Stage Meetings

1. Think of the meeting as the ‘front stage’ and prepare by working hard on the ‘back stage’. And don’t ignore priorities.

“While many meetings are routine,” says Dr. Shameen Prashantham, professor of international business and strategy at China Europe International Business School and author of gorillas can dance“Others feel there should still be an improvement in meetings at all levels.”

2. Give yourself time to “check in”.

We never start a meeting without ‘checking in’, says Fiona Logan, CEO of Insights, a global people development firm. Talking briefly with each person allows participants to participate fully by discussing what is on their minds, how they feel, or what they want to get out of the meeting. So the meeting becomes a time management situation.

Checking in, according to Logan, helps people understand and empathize with their colleagues, fostering connection and trust. It also allows them to shift their mindset from before the meeting to where they need to be during the session.

“This promotes participant engagement, which generally leads to a happy and effective meeting,” he explains. Logan also suggests scheduling 45-minute meetings instead of hour-long sessions, as it keeps everyone engaged during the discussion.

Productive Approach

3. Focus on results instead of updates, even when considering your new software or programming applications.

Suppose the executives evaluate the cost of bringing their colleagues together for the conference. Some believe that meetings should provide at least twice the value as before. Prepare with results in mind, not updates, the next time you chair a meeting, and make it as results-oriented as possible so that everyone comes to the table with thinking hats, not dinner plans.

4. Distribute reports early.

“Don’t waste meeting time presenting papers,” urges Annelise Ly, associate professor at the Norwegian School of Economics and a member of the CEMS Global Alliance on Management Education. Instead, ask your partners to read the information ahead of time and get right to the point when you meet. The direct approach keeps people interested and reduces meeting time.

5. Take command of the discussion. Know when you’re wasting time.

“Deep discussion and disagreement in meetings is a critical trait for creating innovation and ensuring teams grow and thrive,” says David Liddle, CEO of TCM and author of Transformational Culture. However, he warns that heated debate can quickly become damaging and dysfunctional.

Managers no longer have the luxury of sitting back and letting the story unfold. Instead, a manager must lead by assuming the role of facilitator. Liddle argues that providing safe places where open and honest discussion can take place, and where a variety of viewpoints can be presented, leads to better team acceptance and fosters a more cohesive group.

“Helping our people disagree constructively,” Liddle says, “is the goal of healthy discussion.”

6. When meeting electronically, plan and talk in short bursts.

Everyone has had ‘Zoom fatigue’, says a leading business doctor, Dr Amanda Nimon-Peters of Hult International Business School in the UK. Dr. Nimon-Peters is also the author of the upcoming book work with influence. She continues: “That’s because, when we stupidly approach virtual meetings as if they were real meetings, they become boring and unpleasant.”

While our technology has advanced to enable remote meetings, Nimon-Peters points out that our minds haven’t.
We suffer subconscious discomfort from a perceived closeness than the simulated distance between video conference participants.

Successful online teams, according to Nimon-Peters, interact in bursts rather than back-to-back conversations that last a conference. Participants should also plan ahead to make their time together as productive and interesting as possible.

Are all Poppycock Reunions?

Not at all. No meeting has to be futile or pointless. The key is to get to the main points of the meeting and get there first. Be prepared ahead of time and never hesitate to redirect the conversation.

If things don’t go as planned, don’t be afraid to close one door and open another, one that’s more productive. Don’t make it easy for the time wasters, the talkers, or the indecisive ones. Instead, come up with a plan, execute it, and then get out on time.

Image credit: Diva Plavalaguna; pexels; Thanks!

This article was originally published here.

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