There is a lot of good that comes from meetings within an organization, but with every opportunity to accomplish something, there is also a high risk for unproductivity. We have all been in the meeting that lasts way to long and drains all your energy and creativity. For some, this might be every meeting.
I have learned a couple of simple practices that have helped me to be more productive and efficient, as well as creative, in my meetings.
1. Know the Agenda.
Too often we walk into meetings without a real agenda or direction for our time together. I have learned when leading meetings, you must always create an agenda and then get that agenda to the people who will be in that meeting. If everyone has the agenda before the meeting starts, it is almost as if you are having a separate meeting. It’s the meeting before the meeting.
If you aren’t the person who is leading the meeting, I have learned much value in finding out the agenda ahead of time. Do your leader a favor and encourage them to create and give out the agenda.
The agenda is the first level of accountability within meetings.
2. Write Something Down.
By not writing anything down in a meeting, you are automatically telling yourself that what happens in this meeting is not worth my time. That is a heavy statement, but in essence it’s true. Find something to write down that you can go back to at a later time and review.
I recently switched from hand writing everything in a notebook to using Evernote. I love how you can organize and keep track of the notes you make within the program. However you choose to record your thoughts, whether by paper or electronically, make sure you write something down.
The moment you leave that meeting, you will be dealing with something else, heading into another meeting, or trying to sort out what just took place.
Your notes become your lifeline when you leave that meeting.
3. Ask a Question.
Regardless of your personality, everyone should ask at least one question in a meeting. Questions bring clarity. Often times there is more than one person in the room with that same question. I’m not encouraging you to ask a random question out of obligation, but to search for the right question to ask within each meeting.
4. Update Your Calendar and To-dos.
One of the biggest things we forget about meetings is that it must translate to action. We can sit in meetings, ask questions, and share ideas, but how will it translate after the meeting is over? Inevitably, meetings will come to an end and leave us questioning what we do with this information.
This is where I have found myself debriefing in my office after a meeting to make sure any assignments or notes made, get transferred to my calendar and to-do list. This is the purge of the information to find only what is essential to you in that moment. You may share in the action steps of others, but what is your responsibility now that the meeting is over. Are you supposed to meet with someone else about something? Were you just there for creativity and ideas? Are you now leading a project?
Getting future dates and necessary to-dos logged will ensure that you make the most of the meeting you just had.
Put these 4 practices in place next time you have a meeting and I’m pretty confident you will begin to have more effective meetings.