Many employees probably groan and grumble when they see that the boss has scheduled yet another meeting, but Cameron Herold, author of Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less and business development expert, insists it doesn’t need to be that way.
“Meetings aren’t terrible,” Herold said. “We’re just terrible at running meetings.”
According to Herold, businesses can make better use of the time spent in meetings, improving employee morale and productivity in the process, if they follow five simple steps:
Have an Agenda
Meetings that don’t have a clear agenda tend to get off track easily. They also often include people who don’t need to be there and would be better off back at their desks completing important projects, Herold said. The agenda can be short, but should include the main purpose of the meeting, the possible outcomes and the action items to be covered.
“An agenda prevents the meeting from being hijacked by some random topic,” Herold said. “It also allows your more introverted team members to prepare what they want to say in the discussion. Most introverts won’t chime in when they don’t know the agenda ahead of time and you could miss some great ideas.”
Determine a Meeting Style
There are basically three styles of meetings: information share, creative discussion and consensus decision. In an information-share meeting, the information flows in one direction. Either employees tell the leadership something or senior management has something to say to employees.
Creative discussions are brainstorming sessions. People toss out ideas without any judgments made about feasibility or validity, and then decisions come at a later date. Consensus-decision meetings are held when a decision is needed. Herold warned that these can get testy, but eventually, the participants need to reach a consensus.
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“Once you’ve concluded the meeting, put it behind you,” he said. “Don’t continue the discussion outside the meeting.”
Start on Time and End Early
If you scheduled the meeting for 10:00 a.m., start at 10:00 a.m. “This shows respect for people’s times, and also reflects something much bigger,” Herold explained. “If you can’t start a meeting on time, why would it be any different for anything else that’s going on in a company?” End the meeting five minutes early. That gives people time to grab a cup of coffee, check emails, go to the restroom or chat with colleagues before their next meeting.
Foster Useful Communication
Some people talk a lot in every meeting; others rarely speak. For a meeting to be successful, you need to get everyone engaged, Herold said. Foster dialogue with newcomers or quiet people first, and then go around the table, moving up in seniority as you solicit feedback or ideas. Also, make sure people are not distracted because they are responding to email on their cell phones or laptops.
Know Your Role
Every meeting should have a chair, a timekeeper, participants and a closer. The chair announces the type of meeting it is and makes sure everyone sticks with the agenda. “The job of the chair is to prevent the meeting from going sideways,” Herold said.