Improve Your Meetings
More than likely, most of us are meeting just to meet. Maybe it’s a committee that is no longer serving a productive purpose, but no one is willing to challenge the committee’s function. Perhaps you lead a work team focused on a special project and have regular update meetings, even though you suspect most of the updates can be communicated via email. Maybe you lead a large team and think bringing everyone together will support transparency and collaboration, though no clear outcomes or actions come out of your standing meetings.
If you find yourself going through the meeting motions, it could be time to assess the current state and make some meeting improvements.
Reflect and Assess
Some meeting leaders continuously look for ways to improve the effectiveness of their meetings. For most us, this is not a top of mind task. It is even possible that we just want to get through the meeting, so we can get back to our work. This may be our first pitfall. According to Doodle, 71% of professionals report losing time for key work projects every week due to unnecessary or cancelled meetings. The first step to an improved meeting experience is to ask, “Does this meeting need to happen?”
Answering this question about the need for a meeting can be a challenge for meeting leaders. You don’t want to assume the rest of the team feels the same way and put a stop to something that might actually support productivity. If you find yourself questioning your own reflection and judgement about a meeting, look to the data. The fastest and easiest way to collect information about your meeting is to ask your meeting participants how they feel. Let the team weigh in and assess the use of time. The only thing you have to lose is time and part of that $399 billion.
Does your meeting have any of these other pitfalls?
IMPROVE YOUR MEETINGS IN 4 STEPS
Use data to help you make decisions about your meetings. If it is not already part of your regular meeting practice, ask participants to complete a meeting evaluation. You can also set aside a few minutes at the end of your meeting, to ask participants to provide a simple 1-5 rating of the meeting’s effectiveness. Ask those who rate the meeting lower than 4, to provide at least one idea for improvement. The meeting agenda and objective also provides useful data. In cases where the objective(s) is not being met, spend some time looking at related evidence. Are you adhering to time blocks noted on the agenda or spending too much time on the least significant items? Think about meeting participants and their participation trends. Do any of the meeting pitfalls listed above apply to your team?
Once you have reflected and used data to determine your meeting pitfalls or areas of opportunity, decide where you will focus your efforts for improvement. What 1-2 actions will you take to make the most out of your time together?
Put your plan into action by implementing a mini-improvement cycle. Communicate your 1-2 improvement actions to your meeting participants. Change the meeting agenda and other related materials to reflect the improvement action. Give yourself a 45-day window to implement the improvement. At the end of the 45 days, check the effectiveness of the action. Gather another round of meeting feedback and do another round of reflection. Is the meeting more effective? Are you accomplishing the objectives? Is the time wasted or productive?