Meetings are one of the most important, yet also maligned aspects of the professional world. Some productivity gurus suggest cutting them down and running them like a 5-minute team talk, others propose performing them standing up and many more suggest banning them altogether. While calls for such draconian steps are probably wide of the mark, ensuring productive meetings at work is still a primary concern for all managers and managers.
One of the biggest problems that meetings face is the fact that, with lots of information being passed around and a number of different voices speaking up and with different approaches, it can be difficult to make sure that everybody leaves on the same page.
So, what can be done to improve the chances that everybody gets the same message, i.e. the one they’re supposed to, from a meeting? Here are some tips for doing just that.
How to Have More Productive Meetings at Work
- Leave space for a recap.
With so much noise about saving time by making meetings shorter, it’s easy to think that taking a few minutes at the end to repeat what has just been said would be one of the first things to be cut. But a recap at the end of a meeting is actually one of the most essential parts of the whole process. Just like how repeating words or someone’s name helps you to remember them, going back over the main points of a meeting is essential for the listener’s brain to strengthen the neural pathways that make our memory work.
Whatever you do, don’t let everyone go without reiterating exactly what you want them to take away from the meeting.
- Ask your team how the meeting went for them.
A great way to find out what thoughts staff are leaving with is by simply asking them. Canvassing your team about their reflections for work meetings will give you a clearer idea of what methods are working and which need improvement.
- Keep things concise and underline the main points.
Information overload can be a major productivity killer for meetings. With too many thoughts and opinions floating around, along with the statistics or anecdotal evidence supporting them, it’s not hard to see why many having productive meetings at work can be so difficult. To combat this, try to make sure the key points for the meeting are highlighted as such and underlined, both figuratively and literally, on a whiteboard if possible.
- Write a short post-meeting follow-up.
Along with repeating the key points at the end of the meeting, it is also helpful to email a quick follow-up with the main four or five takeaways that you want to emphasize. This should be just a few short bullet points, but you should also encourage everyone to read them, even if they think they know exactly what the meeting was about. The constant reinforcement of the key points will leave attendees in no doubt as to what the purpose of the meeting was.
Project management technology such as Clarizen can be extremely useful in this situation, allowing you to post up your recap in your common workspaces for everyone to see and comment on if necessary.
- Create an anonymous meeting review dropbox
If you feel that meetings aren’t running as smoothly or as productively as you’d like, it could be good to create a real or online dropbox where they can leave their reflections for work meetings. These could range from limiting individual speaking time to getting more comfortable chairs, but the system will perform the dual role of gathering employee concerns and giving you the opportunity to act on them, while also making staff more attentive to see if you have actually listened to them.
Many project managers lean on project management software to help get their teams on the same page, both inside and outside of meetings. To learn what Clarizen can do for you, set up a live demo today.