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The Key to Effective Meetings

Aug 31, 2015, 18:04 PM by Kathleen Kontos

We’ve all been there – sitting in a meeting, fighting to stay awake, wondering why this information wasn’t just sent in an email. Bad meetings seem to be never-ending and can leave employees confused as to why they were invited to join. The solution is not to rule out meetings all together, but to plan short meetings with a clear objective.

Keep it Simple

Before setting up a meeting, make sure you have a clear objective. Ask yourself: what do I want to accomplish? What is the purpose of this meeting? Once you’ve established your objective, put together an agenda for your staff. The agenda should include a description of the meeting and the topics you’ll be covering, as well as any background information participants should know coming into the meeting.

During the meeting, be sure to follow the agenda and stay on track. It’s also important for you to keep the group on topic and know how to appropriately stop someone who is talking more than their fair share. Remind everyone that there will be time for questions and discussion at the end.

The Guest List

Before sending the calendar invite, consider who you’re inviting to the meeting. Think about which employees truly need to be involved. When people attend meetings that aren’t relevant to them, they can view their attendance as a waste of valuable work time. People appreciate when you understand that their time is valuable. So really think about who could benefit from the information being presented.

That’s a Wrap

It’s important to get input from your staff as to what they think works well, and what needs improvement. Take the last few minutes of the meeting to answer any questions and discuss opinions.

It’s also a good idea to send a follow-up email to your staff. People tend to leave meetings with different interpretations of what was discussed. Take a minute to write down any responsibilities, tasks, or deadlines that were assigned and make sure everyone is on the same page.

When in Doubt, Don’t Meet

Try to avoid meetings that can be covered in a brief email, memo, or report. It’s important to differentiate between the need for one-way communication and two-way sharing. If you’re simply informing employees of new policies, changes in the department, status updates, etc. there is really no need to formally meet as a group. However, when the topic at hand could benefit from sharing ideas and discussing opinions, then a short meeting is best.

Bottom line – meetings aren’t always a crowd favorite, but are in fact necessary. The key is to have well-prepared meetings, involving all the right people.

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