How to Keep Meetings Short, Efficient and Effective

WLP Group

Do you ever feel like your place of work calls too many meetings? Do these meetings often keep you from actually getting your work done? If so, you’re not alone. Employees and executives around the world have to spend hours in meetings each day, which can stretch the workday beyond official hours and arrest productivity for the people involved. Often, the problem comes down to the meetings being excessive, poorly managed or both. 

Spending too much time in meetings doesn’t just take you away from your daily workload. It also leaves you with less time to attend to other essential parts of your life outside of work, such as personal errands and obligations. If you’re religious or spiritual, for instance, it may help your mental well-being to spend some time each day engaged in prayer or meditation, guided by a prayer app such as the Muslim Pro app. To make the most of your prayer time, such apps typically come with timed reminders, auditory prompts, and other helpful features that you can learn about on the Muslim Pro app Instagram.

While meetings can be useful in situations that require you to share important work updates or connect with other people, proper planning is essential to ensure that they’re productive. Try the following steps to keep your meetings as concise and efficient as possible:

Decide If A Meeting Is Truly Necessary

Before all else, determine why you want to call a meeting and whether a meeting is even the best way to fulfil your intended purpose. If you want to share information with a group of people, for instance, calling a meeting will be less efficient for all concerned than preparing a report. Gauging opinion or soliciting input on an important work issue can be done through polls or feedback forms. Save meetings for situations and issues that require discussion and collaboration, such as brainstorming sessions.

Draw Up an Agenda

Once you decide that a meeting is necessary, the next step is to set a clear agenda. Determine what matters the meeting will cover and how long each segment should take. Pass out copies of the meeting agenda ahead of time so your attendees can prepare and maximise their participation.

Invite the Right People

Larger meetings tend to lead to bigger drops in productivity, so limit your attendees to only those who have a specific role to fulfil. Prioritise key stakeholders and decision-makers and reschedule your meeting if these people can’t attend.

Allow People to Decline

Meetings may compete with other deadlines, tasks or priorities your employees will have to attend to during your workday. Give them the option of skipping out on a meeting if they can demonstrate that they don’t absolutely need to be there, or that they have more important work to do during the set time. It’s never a good idea to invite more people to a meeting just to produce a large turnout.

If the meeting is especially critical and you feel that you have to require attendance, emphasise this in your communications for employees. If certain employees have equally important prior engagements, work with them to figure out how they can best contribute without sacrificing their other priorities.

Assign Someone to Lead

To make sure that the conversation doesn’t get out of hand or go off-topic during your meeting, assign a discussion leader, host or facilitator. This person’s role is to control the discussion by making sure that everyone gets the chance to speak up and no single person monopolises the discussion. 

Set Clear Ground Rules

Many meetings will stretch out much longer than they need to because of distractions and interruptions occurring. To eliminate this problem, draw up and enforce ground rules for the meetings you organise. For example, consider prohibiting the use of mobile phones and other technology during the meeting. If you’ll be watching presentations, make sure that attendees know exactly when it’s appropriate to pose questions or concerns to the presenter.

Careful timekeeping is likewise important for productive meetings. Consider designating a particular person to ensure that the meeting starts and ends on time and that allotted times for each segment are strictly followed.

Determine Takeaways and Follow-Up Action

Other demands and responsibilities that crop up post-meeting may make it difficult for your team to actually accomplish the meeting’s objectives. Do you contribute and add value to your group? End your meeting by developing an action plan to keep everyone focused on your shared goal going forward. Summarise key decisions and takeaways from your discussion and detail the post-meeting responsibilities and tasks your participants must accomplish. Make sure that these items are concrete, specific, and actionable.

It will also help your employees to have a clear sense of how they’re expected to account for their post-meeting responsibilities. Let them know how you expect updates on their findings or progress, whether this is through a report, a presentation at a subsequent meeting or something else.

If you put thought into planning and observe best practices, you’ll find that your meetings will naturally become shorter, more straightforward and ultimately more effective. In the long run, better-organised meetings can help drive employee morale, motivation and productivity to new heights.