Running a Productive Meeting
Posted on Friday, 26 May 2017
Like skin follicles in a dusty house, meetings are everywhere. Pretty creepy and gross analogy aside, the point is, in the world of business today, meetings are held in most organizations for most reasons on most days. And while they may be as frequent as a toddler’s temper tantrums, it doesn’t guarantee that any of them will be nearly as impressive or effective.

Basically anyone who has ever been employed to do basically any job in basically any sort of corporate environment will be more than familiar with the drudgery of a mind-numbing meeting. Tedium can steer even the steeliest mind to such meandering tasks as numbering off ceiling tiles or internally narrating the movements of whichever poor insect got locked in the meeting room with them.

Unproductive and uninspiring meetings are not isolated incidence but nor do they have to be so common. They can and should be productive and inspiring, or at the very least, successful, and pulling off such a feat is not quite the feat that it appears to be.

In order to keep your audience engaged for the duration of the meeting, there needs to be a clear goal and objective for them to follow and aim towards as a collective. Think about the outcomes that you aim to achieve with the meeting and also the questions that you have that need answers by its end. Specificity is the key to a meeting objective; hodgepodge meetings often get hodgepodge results.

Since it’s not a high school birthday party, not everyone you know who knows someone you know in the office needs to attend. Have a think about who actually needs to be in attendance and send out your invitations accordingly. If the stuff you’re discussing isn’t relevant to people, they will tune out and become victims of the ceiling tile count.

Think too about how you arrange the meeting room. You may not be a fengshui guru, but you are all about running productive meetings, so this is actually important. Arranging seating in a circular is not only reserved for musical chairs and campfires, your meetings will greatly benefit from the inclusion and unity that circles encourage. Circles eliminate the hierarchy of classroom style row seating a place everyone at equal distance to contribute.

Now that all your troops are engaged and participating, you have to control them before Kumbaya starts or you’ll never get anything done. There are myriad ways in which to corral the masses and hold their attention, but consider simple tried and true methods like using a talking ball and establishing basic rules for the meeting, like hands-up, no interrupting, and one speaker at a time.

One of the most important things to remember about meetings on the list of most important things to remember about meetings is to stay on schedule and stick to your times. Everyone is “so busy” and has “so much work to do” so once you’ve set a start time and established and agenda and set a finish time, make sure you start on time and remain true to the agenda and finish on time. Everyone will appreciate it. Also, from door to door, most meetings don’t really have any business going on for more than an hour, you can say a lot in an hour if you’re concise and prepared.

Always follow up after a meeting, especially a big one, within twenty-four hours by emailing out the minutes or a bit of a memo on what went down. Sure, everyone who was there was there and was obviously in the same meeting as everyone else who was there, but they may have taken away different things or remembered things a little differently. Like after a movie when you talk about it with a friend and find out things from them that you didn’t see even though you were sitting close enough to share popcorn.

Always be prepared and your meetings will be more productive than you ever thought imaginable. You’ll be succinct and on schedule and engaging and inspire participation and productivity, shedding boring and useless meetings like dead skin all over the place for the dust mites to enjoy, while you enjoy the productive fruits of you organized labor.