The workplace is changing and new technology makes it possible to telecommute from anywhere in the world. Because of this fast paced, highly technological work environment, many feel meetings are a waste of time. Anyone who has read The 4-Hour Workweek can see how meetings are often unnecessary and encourage NOT working.
Meetings, whether we like it or not still remain a necessary evil. Projects need to be updated and workers need to be informed, especially when telecommuting. If you’re responsible for a virtual or physical meeting here are six ways to make business meetings more productive:
1. Plan Ahead
Members of the meeting should understand what the meeting is about and prepare themselves accordingly. That way, no one needs to be given basic information when the meeting starts and everyone has the same amount of information. If you are responsible for organizing the meeting, make sure everyone understands what the meeting is about and has all pertinent materials.
2. Keep It Simple, Silly
Don’t complicate things by asking everyone what they want for lunch at the beginning of the meeting or asking everyone to write down a list of three goals they’d like to accomplish. If you’re meeting at mealtime, have lunch ready and delivered when the meeting begins. If you’re asking objectives of the participants, do so at least a day in advance so time isn’t wasted during precious meeting minutes.
If you’re meeting virtually, use a platform like Speek that allows you to easily share a memorable URL, rather than forwarding a dial-in number and PIN. That way, less time is wasted getting dialed in and more time is spent on the productive parts of the meeting. In other words, take extra steps before the meeting to avoid wasted time during the meeting.
3. Don’t Tackle Too Much
No more than three objectives should be addressed in a meeting. If other discussion points come up, that’s great, but keeping the meeting simple with also help keep it short and sweet. Like this paragraph.
4. Keep It Small
Smaller groups are recommended for physical meetings as well as virtual phone conferences. With a small group everyone feels like they can contribute and time isn’t spent going around the table hearing 20 different opinions. The fewer voices in a meeting, the less likely it is to drag on, so limit participants to those who are truly vital to the meeting’s success.
Share files to keep everyone in the loop. Send as many files ahead of time (at least a day before the meeting) so everyone has a chance to look at them. If you are meeting virtually, you can easily share updated files during the call by uploading them through Speek right in your browser.
6. Keep It Short
One hour is optimal for physical and virtual meetings. Any longer than that and things start to drag on, people lose focus and time officially becomes wasted. If an hour has passed and you haven’t accomplished everything you set out to, schedule a second, shorter meeting or follow-up with each member.
Meetings present their own challenges. Find the value in every meeting through preparation and respect for everyone’s time. Use tools like Speek to streamline the meeting process and increase productivity.