How to Prepare for a Productive Meeting
Have you ever heard the joke “Let’s keep meeting until we find out why no work is getting done around here?” While it is a comical take on life in an office, it does have some truth to it. How much time do you and your staff waste in meetings? Below are some tips on how to lead more productive meetings.
Always prepare an agenda
Not only will taking the time to write out and distribute an agenda help your staff know what they are walking into, it will help you focus the goal of your meeting. Have you organized a brainstorming session or do you need to finalize some key items? Once you have confirmed this you can begin to work backwards. Are there still questions that need to be answered? Are there projects that still need to be assigned? Roles to be defined? The answers to these questions should be part of the agenda.
Once the agenda is created, it should be distributed to your staff before the meeting. This gives them the chance to prepare and come up with any questions or comments on the topics to be discussed.
Determine the attendees
Not everyone in your department needs to attend every meeting. On the other side of the spectrum, a meeting without a key staff member in attendance that can make decisions is a waste of time. Having a meeting with too many people can lead to a number of distractions, ending with nothing being accomplished, while a meeting with too few may lead to a decision that misses the mark.
The best thing to do is to review the list of attendees before you send out the meeting invitation. Make sure that each person can both benefit from the meeting as well as have something to contribute. Oftentimes, you can simply invite the department heads who can then pass along the meeting takeaways to their staff.
Manage the clock
Most of us have highly scheduled and busy days. Keeping your meeting to the agreed upon length ensures that your attendees are not forced to work late or skip lunch in order to make up for the extra time they spent in your meeting. This is why it is important to stick to the timeline you laid out. If you booked the conference room for an hour, do not drag the meeting out for two.
Keeping the conversation on topic will also help keep your meeting running on time. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge when a good point has been made but point out that it is off topic and can be added to the agenda next time.
Timely follow-up is crucial to meeting success. We recommend following up the same day, as the information will be freshest in their minds. If something is of significant importance, try making a calendar reminder to continue following up until you reach a resolution.
Meetings are crucial to the success of your practice. Following the tips listed above can help ensure they stay productive and do not become a waste of time.