You’ve just managed to get out ‘alive’ from a meeting thinking you would have died of boredom if that colleague of yours – bless him – hadn’t pointed out the obvious: we’re an hour over the agreed time and we all actually have a thing called ‘work’ to go back to!
Towards the end, words were just whirling around you, making no sense. Your attention span was way overdue and the only thing you could think about was your shopping list! So, what to do to avoid another painstakingly long meeting, leaving everyone free to go back to work, home, to the gym or for drinks on time?
1. Make sure the agenda is clear and stick to it
Purposeless meetings tend to be longer and that automatically lowers the level of commitment of the participants. The ‘why are we meeting’, should always be addressed by the organizer and that could involve some input beforehand from all the participants.
2. Cut the ineffectiveness and come prepared
You should not be sitting in the room if you are not going to contribute. Meetings are for sharing and gathering information. Make some notes of thoughts and questions you may have so that you can make the most of the time at hand.
3. Get on board only the people relevant to the discussion
As a consequence of point 2, remember to get only the people that are going to contribute in the room. The memo can then be sent to colleagues, but during the meeting focus on the core team.
4. Standing meeting
If there is the need to meet but time is limited, try a standing meeting, with nobody allowed to sit for any reason whatsoever. After a while, everyone will start to feel uncomfortable and the matter will be handled quicker. This trick could work also when you’re running overtime: ask everyone to stand up and comments will become shorter and it will make ending the meeting a breeze.
5. Keep the focus, in any possible way
It often happens that someone is keen on sharing too many details that could perfectly be discussed afterwards. Your job as the organizer is to make sure you stay on topic, unrelated matters have to be blocked before everyone starts voicing an opinion.
6. Timing: save the best for last
Timing is essential: ask for someone to keep track of time. If the meeting is supposed to last for one hour, the timer can alert when there are still 15, 10 and finally 5 minutes to go. If there are still some incumbent issues that need to be tackled, that requires scheduling a new meeting. Everyone’s calendar is sensibly planned and if the allocated time was one hour, there surely is somewhere else that person needs to be afterward. Who knows, maybe he or she has to attend another meeting?
Last piece of advice: everyone’s turn is precious of course, but try to time it to 2 minutes for each participant. Wondered why debate competitions always end on time?
Photo by Ahmed Saffu on Unsplash