Meetings are essential for the success of a project. But a majority of meetings seem to drag on forever without leading to any useful results. A survey of meeting attendees indicates that from the participants’ point of view most meetings are as much as 2-3 times longer than required. Although meetings can not be avoided, they can certainly be made much more efficient.
• Keep the number of participants as low as possible. Large number of participants often results in confusion rather than concrete results. Minimizing participants by inviting only those individuals who can actually contribute to the agenda can make the meeting much more efficient.
• Participants are more likely to attend and bring along supportive material, if they are reminded about the meeting just before it is scheduled.
• Having an agenda is a must for every meeting. It should specify the topics to be discussed, the main talker for each topic and the time to be spent over a topic.
• Some attendees may not be unaware about the purpose of meeting and the desired outcome. It is best to start the meeting by clearly stating the purpose and intended outcome.
• Graphs, pictures and diagrams are very helpful for efficient time management. Replacing text documents with images can bring down the duration of a meeting by about 28%. They are also a much more effective way of making a point.
• Some participants tend to dominate the meeting. The leader needs to make effort to involve all the members to maintain balance and group synergy.
• Focus is very important for keeping a meeting on track. Topics that are not on the agenda are bound to come up in a meeting. But it is best to stick to the agenda.
These are a few ways of increasing the efficiency of meetings. Issuing a concise summary and periodically assessing the effectiveness can also be helpful.
Photo Courtesy: simgeorgetown on Flickr