Sometimes, unfortunately, communication gets muddied. Meetings are often ineffective. Yet, we don't have many choices. It's still the best way to communicate, and there are few things more important than communication.
So, how can you make your meetings more effective? How do you limit "death by meetings" that so many employees and managers go through? Here are a few simple tips that may help:
1) Keep Meetings Short...Even if it Means Having More of Them
If you can keep your meetings short, then you force yourself to get to the point. Set a time at the outset of your meeting and be sure to stick to it. The best amount of time depends on what you need to discuss and where people are coming from.
Are you all in the same building? Then a 15 minute meeting is perfect. You can have two or three meetings per day if you must, but keep them all short and focused.
Do you need to travel in order to meet? You'll be holding fewer meetings, but they can still remain short. Hold a 30 minute meeting.
2) Keep "Catching Up" Until the End
A lot of meetings, especially those between people who don't work in the same office, tend to start with catching up and socializing. This is natural, but it can take quite awhile to get on track. In fact, it can take as long as 23 minutes to get back on track after a typical distraction. And that assumes you only have yourself to worry about. Get 2, 3 or 4 people all distracted with one another and you've got a meeting that will never get started.
Save the socializing until the end of your meeting. It allows you to stay on track and to handle your business faster so that you can socialize without worry.
3) Handle Things BEFORE You Get to the Meeting
A typical reason for holding meetings is to determine the status of a particular project or task. If that information can be seen before you arrive at the meeting, then time can be saved rather than rehashing it. For example, Helius uses Insightly. Our partners update their projects, tasks and contacts. At any time, we can go through the Project list and review what is happening. Then, the only time we need to discuss the project is when one of us need help with an issue or when we have a decision to make.
Can you drop your meetings times? Have other ways of figuring it out? Let us know. We'd like to know.