As a former corporate executive and as President of my own firm for almost 18 years, I know what a time-suck meetings can be. I literally have clients who have meetings scheduled, non-stop, back-to-back, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. as part of their daily routine! The “real work” seems to get done at night and on weekends, which is just wrong!

When done right, a meeting can be so efficient that you end up giving time back to the participants! How? First by getting clear on the purpose of the meeting and who REALLY needs to be there. I instruct my over-busy, over-scheduled clients to refuse any meeting requests that don’t provide a purpose, an agenda, and some information about what role they need to play which necessitates them being there in person. If you are invited to a meeting just so you’ll have the information, don’t go and request a copy of the meeting notes.

Meeting notes and an action item summary after each meeting are another great efficiency technique. Folks need to know what is expected of them, and by when. It gives non-participants a way to weigh in if needed. AND when you do require someone’s physical presence, you are much more likely to get it because they know you are respectful of their time.

There’s a final benefit to efficient meetings: if you complete early, folks can actually hang out for a few minutes and talk to each other! Establishing relationships with co-workers and building that internal network is critical to getting things done. The higher up you go in an organization, the more necessary it is that you get things done for other people. Allowing time for that human connection makes all the difference when you want to create a high performance team!

As a wrap-up, to conduct meetings that are clear, productive and concise, make sure you have the following:

  1.  A written agenda?
  2.  Clarity about why each person is there and what their role is
  3. Define contribution you’re looking for from each participant. Is there another way they can provide that contribution?
  4. Do you need every participant there for the entire time or just need participation during their portion
  5. If the purpose of the meeting is just to exchange info and updates, that can be handled via email or an on-line shared tool/project management portal where everyone can type in their updates in a place accessible to the rest of the group.
  6. Published minutes after the meeting documenting decisions, action items, person(s) responsible and deliverable date

Wishing you more efficient meetings in your future!