5 Tips for Making Meetings Work for You

Matthew MacLachlan

9 Nov 2016

Like them or not, meetings are an integral part of our working lives. However, many meetings seem to create frustration and lead to wasted time and energy causing employees to question the validity and purpose of the meetings they attend (and the people who organise them…)

If eight employees meet for just one hour, once per week – this equates to more than one day of potentially wasted time and incalculable opportunity loss, i.e. what they could have been doing if not in that meeting. Here are some tips for making meetings work for you.

Making meetings work: Organisation is key

The most important decision you can make about your workplace meetings is whether or not you actually need to attend

Well organised and managed meetings can be useful and important. Here are some helpful tips to enable you to play your part in ensuring that your meetings work not only for you but also for all who attend. Making meetings work may well be one of the most important things you can do as a manager or an attendee.

1. Be selective

We would all significantly increase our productivity if we were able to reduce the amount of time we spent in unnecessary meetings

The most important decision you can make about your workplace meetings is whether or not you actually need to attend. If you don’t think that you will add value or gain something more than what you can learn by reading the minutes then perhaps it is better if you make your excuses to the meeting organiser or even suggest that the meeting is not necessary or no longer serves its original purpose.

This might seem controversial advice but we would all significantly increase our productivity if we were able to reduce the amount of time we spent in unnecessary meetings.

 

Making Meetings Work for You

2. Be prepared

Consider your position on the agenda items, predict questions you are likely to be asked and prepare questions you would like to raise yourself

If you have committed to attending a meeting, then you should do your utmost to make sure that you and your fellow participants maximise the time you spend together.

Read carefully through any documents circulated before the meeting and make sure that you have prepared any documents or analysis requested from you.

Try to go beyond these essentials and consider your position on the agenda items, predict questions you are likely to be asked and prepare questions you would like to raise yourself. If you are not fully prepared, you are less likely to get what you need from the meeting. Seek help online and through training courses to learn more about how to prepare and facilitate the best meeting possible.

3. Be present

Don’t let yourself get distracted by random thoughts or others in the room

If you are giving up time that could be used elsewhere to attend a meeting, then give it your full attention.

Leave your smartphone behind and do your best to forget your to-do list and the other projects you are working on. If it is an online meeting, try to close down your other applications so that you are not tempted to ‘multitask’.

Listen carefully and respond appropriately; don’t let yourself get distracted by random thoughts or others in the room.

4. Be an active participant

Make sure you contribute to any meeting you attend by sharing your ideas and opinions – but do this clearly and concisely and avoid getting lost in detail and anecdote. You can also participate by moving the meeting on from digressions, intervening if conflict arises and clarifying or summarising action points.

5. Be goal-orientated

Take shared responsibility for agreeing outcomes, staying on topic and achieving the meeting’s objectives

At the start of the meeting, if not before, agree what its purpose is and what outcomes or decisions you want to reach by the end of the meeting. Nothing is more frustrating than a meeting where a topic is given lengthy discussion, but no decisions or conclusions are reached. Take shared responsibility for agreeing on outcomes, staying on topic and achieving the meeting’s objectives.

Effective meetings with clear objectives should be instrumental rather than detrimental to our performance and productivity and we should learn not to judge all meetings poorly but to take responsibility ourselves for making sure that any meetings we attend really do work for us.



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