7 Tips to Make the Most of Meetings

A 2012 GiveMore.com opinion survey revealed the top ten frustrations employees face in office meetings. Almost every one of them boiled down to “efficiency.” Your employees (or coworkers) should not come into meetings with the feeling that their time would be better spent someplace else. Here are a few tips to make the most of meetings, a rejuvenating and productive experience employees can look forward to.

Establish an Appropriate Environment

Environment is crucial to setting the mood, and seating is an important part of that. See to it that the room consistently meets your needs by establishing routine communication with your facilities and IT department. Inform them of your specific seating and electronic needs (respectively) so that they know what you need, and you don’t have to waste the first fifteen minutes because their room is not suitably equipped.

Lighting and decor can also have an impact on productivity. For example, you can use color psychology to change the mood of a room and enhance the workplace.

Make the Most of Your Presentations

7 Tips to Make the Most of Meetings

Image via Flickr by Nguyen Hung Vu

If you have the proper equipment and the space, devote at least one screen to a display of how much time remains for each meeting part. Companies like Google are famous for this transparent practice, as it both avoids inconsistency and helps keep employees on track.

Establish a goal at the beginning. “By the end of this, you will all know how to change your user settings on the new database” is one example. This way, everybody knows what they ought to listen for and can ask questions accordingly if they feel they are missing something.

Streamline With Information Sharing

Discussions will go much more smoothly if everybody is on the same page. Rather than emailing static PDFs and memos, try making use of online collaborative software. Google Apps allows users to collaborate on presentations, documents, spreadsheets, and forms, while Dropbox provides shared online storage space.

Ensure Distance Meetings are an Asset, Not a Distraction

Nobody wants to spend the majority of a teleconference attempting to troubleshoot technical problems. Save yourself and your department some headaches by investing early on in quality telecommunication technology. This way you hen ancan forget about the technical matters and dive right in to your long-distance discussion.

You can also save time by sending out a preliminary email informing all participants of how to sign in to the meeting. This may involve a telephone number and PIN code or software login information.

Promote Time Management and Efficiency

7-tips-to-make-the-most-of-meetings

Image via Flickr by Eric Fischer

Employees report that most of their dissatisfaction comes when they feel the meeting is unclear and poorly managed. Establish an up-front agenda at the beginning of the meeting outlining everything you wish to cover. In the nursing field, many meetings are difficult to keep everyone in their seats, as there are many responsibilities that each member of the meeting may need to attend too. In industries like that, many employers are now keeping office hours so that employees can visit them to discuss personal matters. This keeps irrelevant questions and conversation out of the meeting where time is limited.

Balance Member Participation

The worst thing that can happen is for employees to believe it does not matter whether they attend your meetings. If you are giving a presentation, leave ample time at the end for questions (rather than allowing distracting questions to take over the presentation itself).

If your meetings function better as discussions, pay attention to new recruits and make sure everybody has the opportunity to speak. Respectfully but firmly call out over-speakers, and discourage crosstalk immediately so that it does not become a bad habit.

Always, Always Follow Up!

When the meeting is over, everybody will quickly return to their daily work routine, where it is easy for average tasks to crowd out what you just discussed. Ensure the points of your meeting stick by sending out a follow-up email or memo shortly after it ends.

If possible, assign someone to take meeting minutes so that you can include the minutes in the email. This ensures everybody comes away with the same understanding of what the meeting accomplished and those with questions can follow up with you later.

Your meetings can be productive, efficient, and even enjoyable if you follow these simple tips. Remember that consistency is key. Once you have established a familiar routine, everybody will know what to expect and will conduct themselves accordingly.

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