If you are like most business owners, you start the day by reviewing your calendar and seeing how many meetings you have for the day. Often, there are quite a few each day, many of which are marked as urgent. This can be a total productivity killer–not to mention a mood killer as well.
In fact, meetings are one of the first things I go over when I start working with a new business coaching client because they take up such a huge portion of their day. When I find a client who is struggling with the constant barrage of meetings and interruptions, we go through a series of questions about the meetings that they hold. Questions like:
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Once we go through those questions, we will often see a pattern of wasteful and erroneous meetings. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are some tips for having better, more productive meetings.
If you don’t have an agenda, don’t hold the meeting. The chances of you going off the rails and wasting time on things that don’t create value are very high. Instead, postpone the meeting until you can dedicate a bit of time beforehand to lay out the agenda.
Start on time and start strong. Jump right into your agenda, and get to the point. Everyone’s time is valuable, and if you spend five or 10 minutes of each meeting getting warmed up, an hour or more might be wasted a day on small talk.
It’s easy to get sidetracked. It’s more difficult to stay on task but well worth the effort. Follow your agenda, and if you do find yourself on a tangent, write it down as a future action item and address it at another time.
Beware of one or two strong personalities hijacking your meeting. This includes you! A simple trick to give a voice to the quieter participants is to give them a moment to “jot down” their ideas, thoughts, or input to be shared with you later.
Got a long meeting and don’t want to miss anything? Flag all-important action items as you go, including:
Consider having one person chosen to capture this for every meeting.
After the meeting is over, send out a meeting recap email outlining the action items and discussion points that were covered in the meeting. If needed, put the recap into your project management software as well.
Above all else, be consistent with your actions. A calendar full of pointless meetings is nothing to aspire to. A calendar full of well-planned-out value-added meetings that will help propel your business forward is.
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