Six (Actionable) Ways To Improve Your Meetings

We’ve noticed that some people hate meetings, but all that means is they’re doing them wrong.

Business meeting
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When utilised properly, meetings are a great way to unite the focus of a team and keep everyone updated on important information. On top of that, they can also improve morale and efficiency throughout the staff. However, when meetings are poorly handled or even too frequent, people start to see them as a waste of time. We can’t blame them. In fact, research shows they’re not in the minority…

So, we decided to put together these actionable pointers that should help you get the most value out of your meetings. Hopefully, these can convert even the most anti-meeting people out there.

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1. Give people a heads up so they can prepare

No matter what industry you’re in, the fact is that the average worker is spinning a lot of plates at any one time. They can’t always be expected to answer every question you have about something they’re working on, even if they are well informed and good at their job.

To avoid the ultimate meeting speed bump (“I’ll get back to you”), always establish the meeting beforehand and with enough time that they can prepare. This will massively cut down on dead air and will mean that you can get exactly what you want to out of your meetings. On top of that, it can be pretty demoralizing when you’re not able to answer a question in front of your peers. This should cut down on that embarrassment!

2. Make sure each meeting is necessary

Sometimes, what you need to say can just be clarified in an email. These are great because people can digest them in their own time and not have to drop what they’re doing to do so. As meetings require everyone together in the same space and at the same time, it can be very disruptive and people can’t always drop things to visit them. You need to be receptive to the fact that what’s good for you, isn’t always good for everyone else.

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Remember that a one hour meeting doesn’t just use up one hour, too. It’s one hour multiplied by the number of people in the meeting. When you consider that 71% of people say meetings are unproductive and inefficient (source: Harvard Business Review), that could be a lot of hours wasted for every pointless meeting.

3. With repeat meetings, use SMART goals

If you’re planning on having repeat meetings, such as a 1-2-1 or bi-weekly catchups, then we always recommend that you set SMART goals based on the meeting. This means that you can make all your meetings connected, which is a really valuable asset for making it feel like progress is being made. The acronym stands for the following:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

The idea is that you set a goal near the end of the meeting based on everything that has been discussed, and you make sure it is specific, measurable, etc.

This is invaluable because we believe that vague targets are the downfall of success. Just saying “Get better at this…” isn’t going to help anyone. Instead, attaching a time frame and an actual measurement for the success is where meetings can become truly powerful.

4. Welcome feedback

If you’re the one organising the meeting, you can often approach it from a bit of a bubble.  You need to remember that you need to bring value to every single person in that meeting, otherwise they shouldn’t be there.

To help challenge this, we always suggest that people welcome feedback as part of the meeting process. In many cases, we find that it’s just a case of personal preference and malice never has anything to do with it – some teams may just prefer things a certain way. What’s important is that you find out what that ‘certain way’ is, and you can only do that by asking them.

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Hopefully, they are honest (or maybe the meetings really are perfect!) and then you can take whatever feedback they have and feed them into the next meeting. While it can be difficult, we can’t stress enough that you should never take these personally. You’re opening yourself up to criticism that people often don’t want to give, so if someone does step up then you need to make sure they’re not punished for it.

5. Record the meeting

As a transcription company, we may seem a little biased here, but bear with us. We deal in transcriptions because we truly believe they can make meetings far more efficient and valuable. If the entire company didn’t think that, there wouldn’t be a company.

They’re important because even if you have the best meeting of all time and feel like every single topic was covered and question was answered – it means nothing if people can’t remember it. When some meetings ricochet between points like a game of pinball, keeping a record of the meeting can mean that you’re sure everyone is on the same page.

A document or file to remind everyone what was discussed can drastically cut down on misunderstandings and, as a result, conflicts. These can be in the form of written notes, audio tapes, video conference recordings and more – there are several formats meaning that your needs should always be met.

6. Establish a driver

Everyone having a fair say is important to a successful team meeting, but there is one person that should break this rule. Having what we call a driver means that the meeting can remain focused and topics can be returned to a lot easier. For this to work, however, it needs to be established early on who the driver is.

This will likely default to the person with the most authority in the meeting or the person that organised the meeting. To establish this with the team, we recommend that the driver welcomes everyone to the meeting and thanks them for joining you.

By starting a meeting this way, not only do you subtly suggest leadership (it’s much nicer than “I am the driver and you will listen to me!”) but you also start the meeting off on a positive note.

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You might notice that a recurring theme in these pointers is considering the other team members. That’s no accident. A meeting with just one person isn’t a meeting, it’s a monologue. Hopefully, the pointers above can help you get the most out of meetings because time is valuable – so your meetings should be, too.