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By February 22, 2012

How to Have Effective Meetings That Get Results

How to Have Effective Meetings

Do you feel like most of your day is spent moving through a revolving door of meetings? How often do you sit in yet another conference room, letting your mind wander to your growing to-do list? Do you ever walk out at the end of a meeting wondering what was accomplished?

You aren’t alone, and there are stats to prove it. According to Shirley Lee Training and Development:

  • Leaders report that 33-50% of their time is spent in meetings and up to 50% of meeting time is unproductive.
  • Almost 50% of respondents in a recent survey considered unfocused meetings and projects as the biggest workplace time waster, and the primary reason for unproductive workdays.
  • 60% of meeting attendees take notes to appear as if they are listening.
  • 9 out of 10 people daydream in meetings (and yes, we’ve all been there).

So why do we continue to hold ineffective, inefficient, insignificant meetings day in and day out?

90% of leaders attribute the failure of most meetings to a lack of advanced planning and organization. To fix the dysfunction, Kinesis recommends that each meeting has:

  • A Purpose, which is agreed upon ahead of time
  • A Leader/Facilitator
  • A Time Limit, a Time Keeper, and a Note Taker
  • An Agenda, with the items prioritized. The agenda should be sent in advance so the attendees come prepared
  • Actionable Outcomes with assigned accountability and due dates
  • A Follow up, usually in the form of minutes, recapping the meeting and next steps

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, following a detailed agenda and starting on time would reduce time spent in meetings by almost 80%.

In addition to the basics, here are a few additional tips to keep your meetings focused and relevant:

Company Meeting Rhythms

When companies don’t have regular meeting topics and times, employees and managers create ad-hoc meetings. Unfortunately, these impromptu sessions can be disruptive and disorganized. The solution is a set of short, timely meetings that build a rhythm to the organization – this allows a highly efficient way to deal with important items quickly.

Results-Oriented Objective

Start each meeting with a simple sentence: “the purpose of this meeting is to (insert goal).” Make sure that you have a realistic objective and that the entire team is in alignment with the goal. We’ll often spend the first few minutes of a meeting asking each participant what they hope to get out of the meeting. Doing this further ensures that no one will leave feeling like their time has been wasted.

9 out of 10 people will daydream in meetings

Parking Lot

More often than not, items come up that are important to address, but are not the focus of the gathering. Set up a virtual “parking lot” where these ideas can be documented and postponed for a later time.

Re-evaluate

It is important to regularly review the need and effectiveness of your meetings. Check in with the group to identify areas of improvement. What’s working well? Does the format still work? Should a different leader be assigned? Question the necessity. Can the expected goals and outcomes be accomplished through other means of communication?

It’s time to change the way we conduct business meetings! Following these tips will help re-energize and refocus your meetings, no matter how big or small.

And when in doubt, bring cupcakes.

Click here to download our in-depth, printable guide on creating more effective meetings with the Bullseye method!

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ABOUT Alison Stiven

Alison is the ‘Make it Happen Master’, bridging the gap between the Creative and Strategic teams. She moves forward projects to efficiently implement client strategy and achieve their goals. As past-president of the American Marketing Association Portland Chapter, Alison continually enjoys connecting with folks in the community. She is always happy to grab a cup of coffee or a cocktail to talk marketing, so feel free to reach out!

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