How to Turn Every Meeting Into a Well-Oiled Machine
If you had to make a list of all the things that business professionals hate the most—regardless of the type of business you're talking about or the industry they happen to be in—they'd probably all list “meetings” right at the top.
So, here are a few key things you'll want to keep in mind to turn any meeting into the well-oiled machine.
Set a Time Limit
There are a lot of people who say that they do their best work when they're rushing to meet a deadline, because the combination of high-stakes and adrenalin forces them to be as productive as possible in the little amount of time they have left. You can use the same concept to your advantage in terms of meeting by setting a hard time limit and sticking with it.
Say to everyone ahead of time “we're going to get together Friday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. for a 25 minute meeting” and write it in stone. If your meeting isn't open ended, every second is suddenly precious. You can no longer afford wander off track. Everything non-essential has to go.
Remain in Control
One of the many reasons why meetings tend to go off the rails is because two many voices have equal weight. While everyone contributing is always important, people tend to come into a meeting with the mentality that they own their own personal chunk of that group real estate. If you ask someone to talk about their progress on that next big report, they feel like the meeting becomes “theirs” for as long as they have the floor.
Think of it a bit like a cruise ship. The maintenance team down in the engine room aren't the captains of the ship just because they're helping to make the boat go forward. Always remain the captain of your ship and stay in complete control of the meeting at all times. Be ready to move on from any non-essential contributions.
Don't Meet at All
Finally, make sure that any meeting you have can justify its own existence. Never meet “just for the sake of it,” or because you've suddenly realized that “we haven't had a meeting in a while.” If there is any important point that you can get across to your team in literally any other way—be it a memo or a group email or individual phone calls—do that instead. If your meeting doesn't explicitly need to be a meeting, the fact of the matter is you shouldn't be meeting at all.