Meetings are meant to be the engine of productivity in the workplace. Meetings are where you go when you need to brainstorm new ideas, debate current problems, and make important decisions. Unfortunately, many meetings end up being the exact opposite of productive—you spend the first ten minutes fiddling with the technology needed to bring in remote employees, then another five minutes discussing weekend plans. Before you know it, it’s time to adjourn and no real work has been done. And on the off chance that something of value was accomplished, more often than not, it’s forgotten about as soon as the computer closes and the door shuts.
And, while BlueJeans can make it easier to bring your remote employees into the conference room and hear everyone with exceptional audio quality, we can’t do much about your lack of productivity once you’re in the meeting itself. But we can try. Take a look at our best tips for making sure you get the most out of your meetings every time.
- Make Sure You Actually Need a Meeting
There are few things worse in the work world than suffering through a meeting that could’ve been an email. Trust us, we’ve attended some ourselves. Research suggests that middle managers spend up to 35% of their time in meetings, and upper management spends at least half their day meeting with other people. So adding another meeting to their schedule is something that should be avoided whenever possible. Some questions to ask when you’re trying to decide if a meeting is necessary, include:
- Do I need input from others to make progress?
- Does moving forward with this require a face-to-face conversation?
- Is this meeting our most valuable use of everyone’s time?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, forego the meeting until all the materials are prepared and it makes sense for everyone to meet.
- Send an Agenda
One of the most important ways to keep your meeting on track is to create an agenda of your tasks, and then share it with attendees ahead of time. This will ensure that everyone knows the purpose of the meeting, and it will allow those speaking to prepare before the meeting starts. Keep everyone focused on the meeting itself (and eliminate segues into other topics) by showing the meeting agenda on one screen during the meeting itself.
- Involve Each Participant
When you invite people to attend your meeting, there is an opportunity cost involved. By attending the meeting, they are losing valuable time they could’ve used to get other work accomplished, which means you need to make each and every meeting worth people’s time. Make sure you invite only those who need to be there and then be sure to involve them once they are in the room. Not being involved leads to distraction, and few things are less productive than spending an hour browsing Facebook in the back of a conference room, or in another browser during your video meeting.
- Create an Action Plan
When you have a successful meeting where decisions are made, it’s important to walk out of the conference room with clearly defined action items. Effective plans include the following:
- The specific action item itself;
- The person responsible for completing the action item;
- The deadline for the action item;
- And, an agreement as to what constitutes success or completion.
Having specific tasks in writing ensures that everyone knows what is happening, and allows for successful follow up once the meeting is complete.
Pro Tip: Write your action items in the shared agenda. Your participants already have access to this document so they can refer back to it as needed. For recurring meetings, you can use the same document for every meeting so there is a running record of what occurs.
- Follow Up
Once you’ve created a follow-up plan for the tasks that emerged from your meeting, you must actually follow up with attendees. Respecting the deadlines you set for yourselves and following up on tasks will help achieve results, and ensure that people will recognize the value of your meetings. And when people recognize that your meetings are valuable, they are more like to attend (and engage in!) the next one you host.
As a meetings company focused on helping you host the best meetings possible, we encourage people to meet with others. We recognize the value in getting together with coworkers and clients to brainstorm ideas, discover new solutions, and make significant decisions. Keeping these tips in mind will help you stay productive, and achieve expected results.
Have additional tips to share? Let us know in the comments!