Tips for running meetings that staff members anticipate
In many companies, even the mention of a meeting is sure to bring groans and rolled eyes. All too often, meetings turn into a waste of time, with participants going off on tangents, the meeting going too long, and nothing of real value being done the entire time.
One thing you can do as a manager to make the most of your meetings is to plan and run meetings that your staff members anticipate. This keeps them better organized and less of a chore.
The following are some tips for running effective meetings:
- Make an agenda. First and foremost, you should always have an agenda at your meeting. This is the easiest and most effective way keep everyone on track by showing them exactly what needs to be discussed and in what order. Print off the agenda and make copies for everyone to have during the meeting. An agenda is a great way to steer people back on topic as well.
- Set a time limit. Make sure everyone knows how long the meeting is supposed to last. You can keep everyone on course this way. If someone starts to bring up a topic that has nothing to do with what you want to discuss, you can say something like, "We don't have time to go into detail about that today, but let's save that for another meeting." You may also want to set a time limit on each item on the agenda, with more time allotted for more important points. Everyone will appreciate your respect of their time.
- Be careful when you schedule. Don't schedule a one-hour meeting at lunch time unless you plan on serving food there as well. And, don't schedule one for 4:30 knowing it's likely to run over. No one will look forward to a meeting when they are hungry or ready to leave for the day.
- Have a leader. Never meet without having someone who is designated to run the meeting. This person should keep track of time and steer anyone on course in the event the participants start to get off on a tangent.
- Start and end on time. It's important that your meeting begin and end on time, or else you won't be able to cover everything. Let the participants know exactly when you'll be starting, and stick to that. If people arrive late and want you to go over something that's already been discussed, tell them to talk to you after the meeting is over. Once everyone sees that you're a stickler about starting and ending on time, they'll be more apt to arrive on time themselves.
- Be flexible. While you should stick to your agenda, for the most part, some points come up that you may not be aware of and that should be addressed. If this happens, ask, "I don't think this was on the agenda, and I wasn't aware it was a problem. Should we discuss this further?" If everyone agrees the issue is of importance and should be addressed, continue to talk about it or schedule another meeting, if necessary, to deal solely with that.
By keeping your meetings on course and relevant to the topics at hand, not only are they more productive, but you can run meetings that your staff members will anticipate.