10 Rules for Running More Efficient Meetings…And Getting Rid of Some!

Another meeting?! We hear this phrase from almost every single client during the early stages of our People syncs – “we need to cut back on meetings.” Yet, no one really does anything to cut back. They just keep adding more. More bandaids that are not leading to any long term “healing.”

If you are TIRED of wasting time in unproductive meetings, make it a priority to RECLAIM YOUR TIME. Here are 10, easy to implement rules:

1. Define The Objective

Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself what specific goals you hope to achieve. If the purpose of the meeting can be accomplished through email, a quick Slack chat, or another means, then a meeting may not be necessary.

If it is necessary, ATTACH A CLEAR PURPOSE and AGENDA to the meeting invite. This will help keep discussions focused and ensure that everyone knows what needs to be achieved.

2. Seek Input from Potential Participants

Consult with potential meeting participants to gauge their thoughts and preferences. Are they supportive of the idea of a meeting, or do they feel it could be handled more efficiently through other means? Their input can provide valuable insights.

3. Invite Only Necessary Participants

One of the biggest culprits of inefficient meetings is inviting too many people. Before sending out invites, ask yourself who truly needs to be there. Only include individuals whose presence is essential to achieving the meeting’s objectives. This why RULE #1 is so important! A clear objective and agenda will immediately streamline all other steps.

4. Stick to a Time Limit

Time is precious, so set a strict time limit for your meetings and stick to it. This not only shows respect for everyone’s time but also encourages participants to stay focused and keep discussions concise. Quick tip: Assign a timekeeper who will keep people on track with a clock check every 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Start with a Positive Focus

Engage participants by inviting each to share one positive aspect of their life, whether personal or professional. We firmly advocate for this “Positive Focus” opener, drawn from years of meeting experience, as it encourages individuals to relax and embrace information more receptively.

6. Limit Distractions

Create a distraction-free environment by discouraging the use of smartphones for non-meeting related activities. This will help maintain participants’ focus and engagement throughout the meeting. Quick tip: Turning cameras on should be a virtual meeting best practice.

7. Follow Up on Action Items

At the end of the meeting, clearly assign action items, specifying responsibilities and deadlines. Follow up on these action items in subsequent meetings to ensure accountability and progress.

8. Use Technology Wisely

Utilize technology to facilitate participation and document sharing. However, make sure that technology doesn’t become a barrier to effective communication. Quick tip: Always check your tech before the meeting. Nothing kills engagement faster than tech problems.

9. Be Willing to Cancel or Postpone

Be willing to cancel or postpone a meeting if it is deemed unnecessary or if circumstances change. Respect everyone’s time by only convening meetings when they are truly needed.

10. Implement a NO MEETING Day

Here’s a rule we absolutely love. Choose one day of the week where internal meetings are off-limits. We even dare to say, no meetings at all, though we acknowledge the need to prioritize clients and customers. We recommend setting this day in the middle of the week, perhaps on a Wednesday or Thursday. By blocking out calendars for focused work time, you’ll be amazed at how much more productive your ‘NO MEETING’ day becomes.

By following these ten rules, you can make your meetings more efficient and productive, allowing you to spend less time talking and more time completing the work. Are you ready to commit? Watch your meetings become a valuable asset rather than a dreaded chore.