For many of us, sitting in meetings can be a welcome relief from sitting in front of our computers all day, but spending too much time in meetings can be both unnecessary and counterproductive. Whether you’re leading a meeting, or simply attending one, there are a number of guidelines you can follow in order to maximise your efficiency and make the most out of every minute spent away from your desk.
As the attendee
Punctuality is your friend. On time is too late – even one minute late is unacceptable. Make sure you’re at least five minutes early and that you have the necessary paperwork or tools readily at hand. That way, once the meeting starts, you’ll be cool, calm and ready to contribute.
Another point to bear in mind if you’ve been asked to attend a meeting, is why? What capacity will you need to contribute? What is the desired outcome of the meeting? If you haven’t been sent an agenda, or if you’re unsure as to why you’ve been invited, contact the leader of the meeting and ask for specifics so that you’re prepared ahead of time. And if you think that your presence isn’t needed, say so – you’ll be far more productive at your desk instead.
As the leader
Make sure that each person you invite knows why their presence has been requested, and what will be expected of them in terms of the meeting’s outcome. Remember that you are taking people away from their desks, so the more ready they are to contribute during your meeting, the more efficient and rewarding the process will be.
In order to control the direction of your meeting, reiterate its purpose at the very beginning so that everyone is fully aware of what is expected of them. Ensure that discussions lead to the decisions you need to be made, and guide people back to the points at hand should anyone start to go off at a tangent. Close all discussions five minutes before the meeting is due to end, go over the conclusions that have been reached and any action points that need to be taken further. Finally, send out a mail after the meeting, debriefing all invitees on the outcome of the meeting and reminding relevant parties of any tasks that need to be carried out. Follow these simple points and you’ll soon have the successful resolution you’re looking for.
Did you know that it’s possible to work less and do more? We show you how, here.