In business you might not get a second chance, which is why you need to maximize your time during a meeting in order to operate efficiently. Most meeting are planned well in advance, however there are those times when time is not on your side plan and prepare for meetings.
Like a special forces army unit who prepare intelligence and develop plans before going out on a mission; there are instances where time is not on their side and they have to keep their pre-mission meeting simple and just go out, stir the pot, and see what happens. These unplanned missions require the unit to gather, discuss the mission objectives, desired end state, and highlight the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Given the lack of time, these meeting are generally more effective because they are clear, concise, and to the point, and purposeful. Simple by design, simple in execution.
Here are a few tips to run an efficient and productive meeting.
Stand up. It might sound crazy but during the meeting time stand on your feet the entire time and observe the sense of urgency amongst those attending the meeting slowly rise. Its natural to hurry and complete what you have to say when you know others are standing and waiting for you to finish because they are tired. Say what you have to say and move on to the next person.
If you don’t have a speaking role, don’t attend. The more people attending a meeting, the greater the amount of coordination required because there are more disparate interests to take into account. Reduce the degree of tactical conversations that take up time. Speak about the situation at hand rather than the individual tasks. There is nothing worse that a leader telling individuals how to perform their duties.. Let the sales people sell, designers design.
Set the agenda. Setting an agenda helps to identify the purpose of what needs to be done and why it is important. If you know what your mission is and what the desired outcomes are will help you to work backwards and implement the decisions points.
Identify decision points. These are times and dates by which demands and orders need to be fulfilled in order for the operation to be driven and succeed. When creating a list of factors that will influence decisions, keep them simple. Think about who what, when, where and why. More details can be discussed after the meeting in private with the relevant people.
Identify winning. It is important to identify and make all expectations clear that you want realized in the meeting so that all parties to the meeting have a clear goal to achieve. Each person in the meeting must know why there presence is important.
Use a minimum sized font. IF you having a meeting to update and follow the progress of a specific project for example, make sure that each participant has one slide only. This will force the presentation to be concise and to the point and highlight the macro-level content. If more details are required, then set up an alternative meeting to discuss details. Never reduce the font size in order to squeeze in more content
Take notes. Sharing knowledge is power, and reviewing that knowledge keeps you powerful. Knowledge sharing keeps you informed about what the current context so that you can be informed and informative.
Offer details, but not specifics. Give sufficient amount of guidance about the objectives without going into too much detail and specifics and how to achieve them. Providing details and specifics will stifle creativity and will force individuals to conform.
Meetings, at times, can be painful and takes individuals away from their daily activities and tasks. For this reason, it is important to have a plan before entering a meeting so that they can be productive and efficient and benefit all those involved.