2mm to Sales Mastery | Meeting More Goals with More Effective Meetings

Sometimes it seems like we spend entire days, even weeks, doing nothing but leading or participating in meetings.  Management meetings, team meetings, one-on-ones, huddles and performance reviews and coaching… it never seems to end!

As managers, meetings are actually a big part of how we get our jobs done.  We need to keep in close contact with our teams, our leadership, and other stakeholders in order to plan, direct, and track progress on all of our projects and goals.

However, we all know that meetings don’t always do what they’re supposed to.  Meetings that run overtime, get off track, or simply don’t accomplish anything constructive can become a huge waste of everyone’s time.

If people in our organization are moaning and groaning about going to meetings, chances are that they aren’t viewed as being useful or effective – and that defeats a large part of our purpose in having them at all.  Our meetings will become even less effective if the participants aren’t engaged.

So how do we ensure that our meetings are effective?

What Is an Effective Meeting?

First of all, what does an effective meeting look like?

We can probably consider a meeting fairly effective if it takes a reasonable amount of time, and it achieves its purpose.  It should also involve active participation from everyone present, and/or satisfy their needs – otherwise, the meeting is a waste of time for those participants.

Ideally, a meeting should also produce better ideas, solutions, or decisions than an individual would have come up with on their own.  If it doesn’t, what’s the point of dragging everyone into a meeting?

Why Do Meetings Fail?

Meetings often fail to achieve their aims either because they lack a clear purpose, or they lack the necessary structure to accomplish it.

We often focus on the content for a meeting and neglect the process.  When we don’t plan effectively, meetings run long, conflicts arise, people digress and get off on tangents, and hidden agendas take over.

Keeping meetings focused, constructive, and short requires a bit more preparation, but it’s worth it for the improved results.

4 Steps for Planning an Effective Meeting

  1. Before we even get started planning a meeting, we should first determine whether we really need one. What is our actual goal? If it’s something that can be accomplished without calling a meeting, it would probably save time to use another method.
  1. When we’ve determined what our desired outcome is, we also have the first part of our framework for the meeting plan: our purpose. This, in turn, gives us some parameters for the activity and content of the meeting, which will be based around achieving that outcome. Is our purpose to solve a problem, make a decision, gain understanding, or commit to a course of action?
  1. We also need to make sure that we engage the right participants. If we have people at a meeting who don’t need to be there, or if we neglect to include people whose approval or input would be useful, we have only created additional problems. Who would want or need to be involved?  What roles should they have?  Who should be present at the actual meeting, and who can we fill in later?
  1. Developing and distributing an agenda – preferably well before the meeting, so participants have time to prepare – can be extremely useful for keeping everyone on track. An agenda can be simple or complex. It might include:
  1. The meeting subject and purpose
  2. Topics to be covered
  3. Process to be used for each topic
  4. Time allocated for each topic
  5. Topic leader or presenter
  6. How the participants should prepare
  7. Logistics (date, time, location)

Bonus Tip: It’s often beneficial to send the agenda out far enough ahead of time to allow participants to provide input or reactions.  That way we can incorporate any suggestions or changes, and help secure commitment and engagement from our participants.  Sometimes we can even shorten the meeting because parts of the agenda get handled or eliminated ahead of time – and nobody ever complained about a meeting being too short!

Baker Communications offers leading edge Management Training solutions that will help you address the goals and achieve the solutions addressed in this article. For more information about how your organization can achieve immediate and lasting behavior change that leads to better performance and greater productivity, click here.