The workplace has seen its fair share of changes over the last few years. One thing that hasn’t gone away? The need for regular meetings.
Every business depends on formal collaboration to keep people informed and up-to-date. And yet, running a productive meeting has become far more complicated. The rise of remote and hybrid work means that meetings often take place at least partially online, requiring more equipment, technology, and organization as a result. Meeting those challenges and delivering a productive meeting is vital to running an efficient business.
A productive meeting is one that starts promptly, stays focused, conveys information effectively, and involves as few people as possible. The more efficiently you can run these meetings—especially in a remote or hybrid environment—the more value your company will derive from them. Check out these five easy tips for making the most out of your meeting time.
1. Meetings…or emails?
The first step to convening any meeting is determining how necessary it really is. The old office adage “Don’t call a meeting for anything you can put in an email” holds true. If your goal is simply to convey information, it’s often best to write an email and let the relevant team members examine it in their time. Calling a meeting means taking time away from other projects—and can wreak havoc with schedules if not planned well in advance.
Good reasons for hosting an office meeting, on the other hand, can include tasks that need the synergy that comes from people addressing a problem together, as well as shaping plans that directly affect the participants or their teams. Leave simple announcements, instructions, and lectures for communication methods that don’t require so much time and effort.
2. Prepare a detailed agenda
If a meeting is necessary, it should have a concrete agenda with actionable goals. Those called with vague intentions to discuss a topic often lack direction and just end up wasting everyone’s time. In order to avoid this, develop a list of topics to discuss, questions to answer, and measurable gauges for success. If possible, make sure you organize those materials and distribute them to all the meeting attendees at least 24 hours before the meeting.
Power tip: Evernote’s Meeting Agenda template is a quick and easy way to gather all of your ideas in one place, then organize them efficiently to keep them actionable. You can share this template with other team members and sync the note to your Google calendar in Evernote so it’s already at your fingertips when the meeting begins.
3. Maximize calendar invites
These days, almost everyone uses a calendar app, and calendar invitations provide an excellent way to keep everyone apprised of meeting details. Common apps such as Google Calendar allow everyone to integrate the meeting into their own schedule, and send out an alert if a conflict arises. This gives your team the ability to adjust as necessary, as well as quickly convey the basics of the meeting and allow attendees to prepare.
Power tip: Evernote’s calendar features take flexibility to the next level. Connect multiple Google Calendars in Evernote—including company or team calendars—so you can sync your notes with any and all pertinent meetings and always stay in the know.
4. Mind that clock
Time matters in meetings more than anywhere else—and a productive meeting is always aware of that fact. In almost every circumstance, everyone involved in the meeting has other items on their agenda that they could be working on. Everyone’s time is valuable, and meeting organizers—particularly those in leadership—can demonstrate this by ensuring that meetings start on time and proceed efficiently. Don’t run over, as it makes assumptions about other people’s time. If more time is needed, schedule another meeting. Plan your meetings with an eye on the clock. That will set the pace for other meetings throughout the company and ensure that similar expectations are met.
5. End it with an action plan
A meeting that doesn’t result in actionable progress toward a given goal isn’t very productive, no matter what happens during the time allotted. Make sure your meeting ends with concrete steps and means of measuring progress. During the meeting, ask someone to volunteer to take notes. That way, you have notes to look back on, and you can assign follow-up items to each member of the team.
Always set the last few minutes of every meeting aside to talk about the next steps, including determining who is responsible for what, deadlines for each task and the order in which to complete them, and how each task will potentially impact other efforts in the office.
Power tip: After your meeting, assign tasks to team members to keep everyone accountable going forward. This helps you line up tasks and deadlines, and ensures that everyone can make changes or additions. That way, nothing falls through the cracks.
Meetings can be not boring
Meetings are a necessary part of business, and on some level, even a productive meeting is going to be a chore. Yet because they’re taken for granted so often, the time spent on them is easily squandered, with participants getting little from the experience. As such, you and the pertinent members of your team need to be able to run a productive meeting as a matter of course, one that enhances company synergy and moves the needle towards your shared goals.