How often do you see people leaping for joy when they hear that they need to attend a meeting after an hour? Do you also think meetings are overrated?
If yes, you are not the only one. According to a survey conducted by Steven Rogelberg of the University of North Carolina, 71% of the managers find team meetings unproductive and time-wasting. These meetings not only disrupt workflow but often end up wasting time – usually that of many people. This is why no one likes meetings for the sake of meetings.
Most of the times, people involved in a meeting aren’t aware of the main agenda and walk out the meeting room – often confused and at times clueless. These meetings fail to create an impact on the employees and don’t inspire them to take actionable steps towards the end result.
Team meetings can inspire a lot of creativity, collaboration and productivity provided they are quick, engaging and well-led. To make sure your team meetings are highly actionable, we have made a list of ‘tried and tested’ strategies in this article.
Let’s take a look at them:
Assigning pre-work is a very effective practice that will encourage employees to prepare for the meetings in advance. In fact, it engages employees without even initiating the meeting. Assigning pre-work to the employees increases the level of curiosity among them. It makes them look forward to the meeting instead of expecting a yet another dreaded meeting. It’s always better to come prepared or at least with a fair idea about what the meeting is going to be about.
Pre-work can be simple: asking them to provide key solutions, suggestions, or examples before the meeting. This can be aggregated and used live in the meeting that will make the meeting richer and more effective.
Stick to the agenda
When you think of all the hours spent in meetings and the time-value of those attending them; unproductive meetings can be frustrating. This is why it is necessary to have a clear agenda and most importantly stick to it.
Before a meeting, you can decide on some points that need to be discussed, finalized and analyzed. As soon as they are ticked off the list, have a final word on it and end the meeting. You can discuss things having secondary priority in the follow-ups.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, follows a similar strategy where she asks people to send materials (pre-work) in advance. Secondly, she prefers to have a clear understanding of the agenda to make it more actionable.
Adopt an ‘Everyone Plays’ mentality
Most meetings fail to create an impact because they fail to get everyone involved in them. In a meeting, there would be only one or two employees hogging all the limelight. Effective managers adopt an ‘Everyone Plays’ mentality where they make a room for everyone to contribute in meetings to make them more actionable.
You can start with assigning roles, topics or updates that every participant can share with the group. With this, every participant in a meeting is likely to be more attentive and they also feel more empowered for the new responsibility. This what makes a meeting effective where every participant’s views, ideas, and opinions are valued and taken into consideration before taking the final call.
Invite fewer people
To make meetings more effective, it is advisable to cut down your meeting attendees. Make sure only those employees are invited to a meeting whose presence matters and those who are adding value to a meeting regardless of their designation. For example, if the meeting is to find a solution to a problem, invite the people who will be a good source of information for the solution.
Adding unnecessary people will do more harm than good. And it will also waste their time which otherwise could have been invested in doing something productive for the organization.
Tip: Keep your meetings between 4-7 people. Thus, only invite those who are expected to make an important contribution to the meeting.
Open with a bang
Before starting and jumping straight to the agenda and objectives, catch your team’s attention. You can do so by asking a thought-provoking question, state an interesting statistic, quote someone or tell a story. This will help you activate the thinking part of the brain of the listeners and will lead to effective engagement from their side.
Just make sure your opening dialogue is related to the ‘why’ or the bottom line of the meeting and address ‘what’s in for them’. Opening the meeting with a bang will not only get you more listeners and engagement but will push their creative sides to contribute to the meetings.
Start with the end in mind
To make sure your meeting is actionable, start with the end in your mind. Always make sure the objective for coming together is 100% clear to everyone present in the meeting room.
Ask questions like “We have gathered to discuss solutions for….” or “At the end of this discussion we will decide… “. Having a clear vision and the purpose behind the meetings help to generate better ideas and actionable steps.
Tip: Starting with single objective increases the likelihood of achieving it more often.
Decide who will do what by when
One of the best ways to inspire action is to assign tasks to the team members. Decide who will be handling what and within what time a task will be accomplished. This makes team members accountable for their work. Moreover, healthy work pressure can contribute in boosting workplace productivity making them more focused and task oriented.
Setting up time limits for every task provides an estimated ‘project completion time’. This can help the team members to have a better understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and timelines.
Thus, by applying the ‘who will do what by when’ approach you can fast-track your project completion time with effective time management.
Many employees feel that meetings keep them away from completing their own work. And they admit doing other ‘work’ in the meetings. The reality is that if you allow your team members to bring their laptops, smartphones or ipads to the meetings, there is a likelihood of them being distracted by them. They end up spending most of the time checking the emails, surfing the internet or just playing with them.
Make your meeting room a ‘No Gadget Zone’. Just ask team members to bring a pen and a notepad to jot down pointers or other important stuff. With zero distractions, they will be able to come up with the best ideas, suggestions or solutions for a problem.
Start and end on time
No one likes a meeting to be pushed for next 30 minutes – whatever be the reason. This decreases their morale and the thought of spending another 30 minutes in the dreaded meeting room can further demotivate them.
It is always better to start and end meetings on time. This makes them feel that their time and presence is respected and valued in a meeting. When you start and end meetings on time consistently, employees look forward to give their contribution in them.
Incorporate fun with learning
The best way to make anybody work is by making them enjoy it. Many employees fear meetings as they are time-wasting and often inconsequential. But if the meetings are quick, to the point and well-led, they can produce some great ideas and contribute in some serious collaboration among team members.
When the meetings involve both learning and fun they can generate a lot of action, collaboration, and camaraderie in an organization. This will contribute to boosting overall productivity at workplace. Inspire employees to think out of the box with these amazing brainstorming techniques.
Team meetings have got a bad reputation in the workplace for not being productive enough and for wasting the time of multiple people at once. However, if the team meetings aren’t bearing any fruit, then it is better to spice them up and give them a complete makeover.
To make the meetings highly actionable start introducing new ways and techniques to them. Giving them a complete new avatar will enthuse new energy among employees to look forward to contributing to them and will inspire them to take more action.
If you employ the above-discussed strategies we are sure your meetings would be highly actionable. We would love to know the strategies you guys employ to make meetings more actionable. Drop a comment below to share the tips.