August 16, 2019
How to hold an efficient meeting that’s actually productive
Does the thought of meetings make your heart sink a little? Meetings tend to get a bad rep, but it’s not surprising considering how we easily fall into the same traps. Whilst some meetings can be really fruitful, we’ve all been in our fair share of poorly run sessions which tend to go off on tangents.
These can become especially tiresome when they occur so frequently that your diary is filled with meetings which are eating up time that could be spent at your desk, actually getting things done.
According to a survey released by Barco, we spend on average more than 8 hours a week in meetings. That’s roughly a full working day for some of us – but consider the impact this has on your productivity if most of these meetings are unnecessary or simply go round in circles. Thankfully, there are simple things that you can do to make your meetings more efficient – saving you and your colleagues time and meaning you walk out of your meetings having actually achieved some results.
1. Determine whether you actually need a meeting
It may sound obvious but read it again. Before holding a meeting, it’s always good to ask yourself the question ‘Is this something I could communicate more efficiently that would achieve the same results?’ For the most part, meetings should not be held for the sole purpose of sharing information (with the exception of sensitive issues). This is what our digital communication tools are for. Meetings should be collaborative and have the objective of discussing ideas and finding solutions. Establishing the purpose of your meeting is vital in ensuring you and your team aren’t just going over old ground, spending valuable minutes of your day discussing matters that don’t serve the purpose of achieving your work goals.
2. Double-check your guest list
The people you invite can have a serious impact on the effectiveness of your meeting. The last thing you need is to be discussing an idea, only to realise that the key people who could help you come to an actionable solution are not in the room. Try and limit the number of people in attendance to the key colleagues needed in order to help make decisions and get actions underway.
3. Set a clear agenda
There’s nothing more frustrating than receiving a meeting invite to your inbox with a vague subject line and no indication as to what the meeting will entail. This means that invitees have little idea as to why they’re being invited or what is expected of them. By establishing a clear agenda when sending the invitation, your colleagues can ensure they are prepared for the meeting or even determine if someone else would be better suited to attend in their place.
Setting a clear objective and understanding what you want to achieve from the meeting ensures that you and your colleagues are on the same page. Not only can you prepare your thoughts on the subject beforehand, but you’re more likely to stay on-topic if you have set items listed that you aim to discuss and explore in the allocated meeting time.
Ayoa tip: Try creating your agenda in a Mind Map using our Meeting Agenda template. Our templates will save you time starting from scratch and give you some hints on areas you may wish to discuss as part of your meeting.
4. Establish a clear start and end time – and stick to them
How often have you put a meeting in for 10am, for example, but not actually set a clear end time? This is a common reason why so many people find they run off-topic and before they know it, they’ve been in their meeting for over an hour. Setting an agenda helps with this, but by establishing a clear timeframe for working through each discussion point on your agenda will sharpen your attention and keep discussions focused.
When setting your agenda, be sure to include 5 minutes or so at the end for questions or concerns. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page, and is aware of any actions that need to be carried forward.
5. Ask everyone to contribute ideas beforehand
The more you can prepare before attending the meeting, the easier you’ll find it to stay focused and jump straight into discussions. Try asking everyone to contribute their ideas to a shared Mind Map before the meeting, so you have a starting point to work from. Mind Maps are a powerful and creative way to generate and expand your ideas and find solutions. You may find that some people are more reluctant or shy to voice their opinions at first, especially if you’re meeting with a large team of people across your organization. Giving them the opportunity to contribute their input beforehand means that everyone’s opinions will be considered – especially when it can be easy for meetings to be dominated by more vocal participants.
6. Keep people engaged
We all know the feeling of sitting through a long, dull meeting, trying not to mentally ‘switch-off’ and actually absorb a stream of information instead. Effective meetings keep attendees engaged and encourage them to contribute and add value to the conversation. Using Mind Mapping during a team meeting is a great way to get everyone to collaborate and contribute their ideas as you go. This also saves you time having to type up long-winded meeting notes afterwards. Of course, it’s good practice to send a round-up of what was discussed in the meeting to all participants. However, capturing people’s ideas on a Mind Map as you go along means nothing is missed or forgotten, allowing you to expand on these ideas later.
7. End the meeting with clear actions
The best meetings are the ones that not only have a structured agenda and objective, but that also establish clear actions that need to be taken post-meeting. Rounding up your session by establishing next steps and who is responsible for each action means that everyone leaves the meeting knowing what’s expected of them next and that their time in the meeting has been productive and valuable.
Ayoa enables you and your team to individually and collaboratively generate and capture ideas, then turn these into actionable tasks in the click of a button. With Mind Mapping features for idea generation and team collaboration, Ayoa is here to help make your next meeting your most efficient and productive yet. Discover more here or try for free for 7 days.