Cut Through the Noise: 3 Quick Strategies For Better Meetings
One of the major reasons why business professionals hate meetings is because of all the noise that normally surrounds them. One minute, you're hard at work and in a productivity groove. The next minute you have to stop everything and head into a conference room to listen to people talk. The two usually have very little to do with one another.
The reason people hate meetings because they've been doing meetings wrong.
To really want to make the most out of a meeting, you have to cut through the noise. Here are a few key ideas that you can use to streamline your process and hold better meetings starting today.
Is it a meeting, an email or a memo?
Meetings are a lot more than just opportunities to bring everyone in a department or even a business together – they're a communication tool, the same as email or phone calls or even social media. As a result, these tools should both serve a purpose AND offer something unique that others don't.
For example, if there is a particular topic you can cover in an email – a list of action items, let's say – then it has no business being in a meeting. If sending out a memo that will serve as a reference guide later, you don't need a 20-minute meeting to do the same thing. Look for ways to eliminate waste and overlap wherever possible. Don't hold a meeting because you feel like you're supposed to, hold one because you have to. This means that there is no more efficient way to get this particular information – and group feedback — at this particular time.
Take a break
If brevity is the soul of wit, it also happens to be the soul of an efficient meeting. You may feel like you have a lot to cover, but holding multi-hour meetings is actually counterproductive for just about everyone thanks to a very simple scientific fact.
According to the experts at Forbes, when people sit for long periods of time (as they do in those two-hour weekly meetings your business always has), their body literally stops breaking down fat after a while. This causes their energy levels to drop off significantly, which makes them much less enthusiastic and receptive at the same time.
If you do legitimately have a lot to cover, take frequent breaks. Every half hour, give people a five or ten minute break to get up and move around. You may think that you're wasting precious time, but what you're really doing is optimizing the time you have left.
Pare down your “guest list”
There is absolutely no reason to call absolutely everyone together for a meeting. Look at things from the perspective of individual attendees. Do Janet from Accounts Payable and her supervisor both really need to be present if you're discussing new vendor sign up procedures? You could just let Janet do her thing and her supervisor can decide whether to fill her in later. This optimizes everyone's time.
If you really want to get better at meetings and streamline your process, you need to get as comfortable as possible with the idea of choosing whether it's a meeting (or something else), keeping it short and sweet and inviting the right people.