Stop the Madness: Host Meetings That Don't Suck

Business.com / Managing / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Meetings can be incredibly beneficial—but they can also be complete wastes of time. These 10-steps can help you keep meetings on track.

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Meetings generally suck. They drain time and resources, hinder productivity and can even affect employee morale.

They are also incredibly costly, resulting in $37 billion in lost salary annually in the United States. Furthermore, most employees consider meetings a waste of time. So why do we have them? Surely, there must be a better way.

Meetings can be beneficial—if they're run right. As a marketing manager, how can you make sure that the next meeting you plan is productive, enjoyable and effective? Stick to this 10-point checklist and you'll be on the right track.

Related Article: Meeting Mania: How to Curb this Corporate Addiction

1. Have You Established the Goal of the Meeting?

You’re the manager calling the meeting. Do you know what the meeting is being called for and what you hope to accomplish?

Hint: “Because we always have a meeting on Tuesday” is not sufficient reason to plan a meeting. Which brings us to our next point,

2. Have You Determined if You Need a Meeting?

Have you formulated a thorough plan for what needs to be accomplished? Have you made clear to everyone involved what exactly you need them to provide or take away from the meeting?

If your meeting doesn't drive your business forward in some manner or help your team work towards a specific goal, you likely shouldn't be having it. An email update will suffice in such situations.

3. Have You Planned Out Your Meeting Ahead of Time?

What is the itinerary for your meeting? Remember, you have a set amount of time—don't waste a single minute of it. When determining your topics, consider adding a set time for each item to be discussed.

A timeline for each point of discussion can keep your team focused and on track. It can also hold you accountable so that you don't end up being the time-waster.

4. Have You Invited the Right People?

One of the keys to hosting a successful meeting is determining who needs to attend. Remember, whoever is at your meeting will not be at their desk, which means you are losing productivity with each passing minute.

In fact, the average corporate employee spends upwards of 40 percent of his or her workweek in meetings—and not working. Only invite people who need to be there.

5. Have You Determined an Appropriate Duration?

A meeting that runs long can drive a stake right through the middle of your team's productivity. It may also make you a few enemies along the way. If what you have to discuss only necessitates 15 minutes, then make your meeting that long and no longer.

If you schedule a meeting for 30 minutes when you only need half that time, then you’ll likely waste the rest of that time with small talk. A short meeting creates a sense of urgency and helps to keep people on task.

6. Have You Selected an Appropriate Location and Time?

Have you ever attended a meeting first thing in the morning? Or held a meeting in a conference room where nothing worked?

In nearly all cases, they are disasters. Make sure that the meeting location is conducive to hosting the type of meeting that you're planning. If equipment failures hinder your meeting or the meeting time is so early (or late) in the day that people fail to show up, you can't accomplish your goals.

7. Have You Established the Rules of Engagement?

You want your team to discuss the points at hand and to come to some positive results. However, don’t think that this means you have to yield control to anyone with an opinion. As a manager, you are leading the meeting—not the other way around. Establish the rules of the game early.

Is the meeting intended to be a collaborative, open discussion? Or will you be making a structured presentation?

Related Article: The 7 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful Companies

8. Have You Considered Making the Meeting Device-Free?

Not all meetings need to be device-free but consider a ban on technology if you are hoping to have attendees' undivided attention. If everyone has their iPad or laptop in front of them, there's no way for you to know if they’re taking notes or playing “Angry Birds.” If your meeting is device-free, consider designating one person as the meeting's note-taker. He or she can then send a follow-up email covering relevant points.

9. Have You Written an Informative Invite?

To get the results you want, make it clear what your goals are prior to the meeting. In other words, write a better invite. List the topics to be discussed (with a brief overview of each) so that people have a chance to prepare for the meeting in advance. Doing so will allow you and your team to achieve real results.

10. Have You Taken Steps to Ensure the Meeting Ends on Time?

Nothing—and we mean nothing—sucks more than a meeting that doesn’t end on time. Stick to the schedule and people will be more likely to look forward to your meetings. Rather than rehash everything that was discussed at the end of the meeting, follow up with an email documenting the applicable points instead.

This will help ensure that the meeting is productive and effective.

Help is Out There

Don’t be afraid to look for resources that can help make your next meeting a success. There are countless articles, YouTube videos and books out there on planning an effective meeting. Leverage these resources to your advantage.

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