It’s been claimed that ineffective meetings can cost companies up to £211bn a year. There are simple ways to make them more fruitful.
1. State your objectives and have rich content
Set clear aims and share them with attendees in advance. This will not only improve the effectiveness of your meeting, but will also increase the productivity of those involved. Contributor to Forbes, Mark Murphy, also suggests that simply having a statement of achievement – one sentence that says, “As a result of this meeting, we will have achieved …” – can cut 17 minutes from a meeting.
2. Ask, do you really need to attend?
Google executives will invite no more than 10 people to a meeting, while Amazon employs a ‘two pizza rule’ – never have a meeting where two pizzas aren’t adequate enough for the whole group. So if you are leading a meeting, only invite people who truly need to be there and will contribute something of value and are empowered to translate the content back into their businesses.
3. Ditch the Powerpoint
If Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has insisted on banning Powerpoint, maybe it’s time for other organisations to do the same? Instead, Amazon uses ‘narrative memos’ – or a “six-page memo that’s narratively structured with real sentences, topic sentences, verbs, and nouns”. If that seems too daunting, use other tools like a whiteboard, pictures, videos or post-it notes to help interact and engage with your audience.
4. Keep it interesting
There’s a number of benefits associated with taking your meetings outdoors, whether it’s improved concentration, enhanced creativity or boosted energy levels. Or why not consider standing up? This is a sure-fire way to keep a meeting short and snappy, while revitalising delegates and keeping them in tune with the core reason for the meeting.
5. Get the time right
Research has shown that the best time to hold a meeting is at 3pm on Tuesdays. Research coordinator Keith Harris told Inc. that this “is the furthest you can get from the deadlines at the end of the week without bumping into the missed deadlines from the week before”. What’s more, the meeting is less likely to run over, as people will be keen to leave work on time. If you’re still in the habit of arranging to start at 9am and finish at 5pm, your travel costs could be needlessly high and delegates’ wellbeing could be impacted by early starts and late returns. Smarter working and smarter buying is required!
6. End with an action plan
Create an action plan at the end of the meeting, clearly identifying who is responsible for what and by when. Otherwise, the meeting won’t achieve your desired outcomes. As consultant and corporate trainer Paul Axtell says: “Getting firm, clear commitments is the primary way to ensure progress between meetings … and then follow up often.” Once you start the momentum, keep it there and build on its foundations, with regular pulse checks, sharing successes along the way.