We’ve all been there, that important client meeting or office pow wow which gives you a well-needed break from your desk in exchange for your full attention as you discuss strategic moves, catch up on critical business happenings or just to brainstorm solutions for your next big win.
Until you’re jolted back to reality, and the next thing you know, the meeting has ended and you’re puzzled as to whether you’re the only one who felt that it was unproductive and the time wasn’t utilized properly.
Here are five simple yet proven ways to avoid the pitfalls of ineffective meetings, and to help navigate your way to more meaningful ones.
Be Prepared: Do your research and check what your deliverables are before you head into the meeting. It saves tons of time and helps you to stay on the ball as the discussions bounce around the room. Having an agenda in place is perfect for keeping the meeting on track and ensuring that you cover the most critical tasks as you drive your discussions to meet your needs. No one likes a meeting that ends up being a waste of time, so when you have a meaningful one, it leaves everybody feeling more confident and productive.
Arrive Early: Arriving early for the meeting gives you time to settle in and refresh your memory and focus on the objectives. Entering the meeting room a few minutes in advance allows you to check-in with your colleagues rather than getting lost in your cell phone and the latest happenings on social media. You may even have time to drop in some conversation starters to lighten the mood and set the pace for effective top level discussions.
Take Notes: Whether you fancy writing or taking notes on an electronic device, keeping a record of what happens in the meeting allows you to stay focused, and helps you to process the information for later action.
Ask questions: Impress with your listening skills, but if there is something that requires clarification, don’t hesitate to ask. It shows that you’re keeping track of the conversation and may help others to get a better understanding or another perspective that was not immediately clear.
Follow Up: So the meeting has ended, what were the key deliverables that were bestowed upon you? How can you help to move the discussions forward? What are the key priorities before the next meeting is called and how quickly do you need to take action so that you can deliver in advance of your deadlines and capitalize on what you learnt? These questions should be answered as soon as the meeting wraps up with the goal of budgeting time and resources to get the job done. The quicker you get started, the better position you’ll be in to pivot and take the necessary action if you encounter roadblocks.
The next time you have a quick pow wow or a top level meeting, why not try out these easy and practical tips?