4 Tips to Make Meetings More Efficient

Posted September 13, 2013

By Janine Popick

Have you ever sat through a meeting that was so unorganized that you spent the whole hour thinking you'd rather poke pencils in your eyes? So many meetings lack the simple basics like preparation, an agenda and a desired outcome.

Are we all just meeting to meet, and if so why? There's got to be a better way, and I challenge you to make your meetings more efficient for everyone's sake. Let's review four ways that you can do that.

4 Ways to Make Meetings Matter

1. Do you really need to have a meeting?

Before you add a meeting to the calendar, ask yourself, "Does this matter really require a meeting, or can I just walk over to someone and get to the bottom of an issue?"

Trust me; most folks would rather have a quick chat than sit through a meeting about something they can resolve quickly. Remember, always make sure the person has context so they can fully and appropriately answer your question. This ensures that you both get what you need.

2. Prepare In advance

If you're going to take up people's valuable time with a meeting, then make sure you're well prepared. Create an agenda and include it with the meeting request. Or, include any pre-work for the team so that everyone comes ready. There's nothing quite like getting everyone together only to find that no one is prepared. You may be tempted to save face by stumbling through, but you're only wasting everyone's time. Don't do it.

3. Stay online

Do you really need to "take it offline" in a meeting? That just means another meeting, to which I say, boo hiss. As the saying goes, "never put off till tomorrow, what you can do today." As long as the conversation won't derail your entire meeting, why not have a quick discussion during the meeting and move on? Taking things "offline" is just a bad habit that just delays things further. Get it done now.

4. Keep it short

At my company, anyone can view someone's calendar and see when the person is available in one-hour increments. This seems to make folks book an entire hour for meetings. In most cases, that's way too long. If you follow the tips in this post and come prepared, with an agenda and ready to make decisions, you can wrap up most topics in about thirty minutes. Meeting adjourned.

Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe Company), a provider of self-service email, social and event marketing solutions for small businesses. Connect with her on Twitter at @janinepopick.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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