A friend of mine says people hate meetings because:
- They don’t start on time.
- They don’t finish on time.
- What’s in the middle is a waste of time!
It’s true a lot of meetings are a waste of time. Unproductive meetings can cost your business big time. 5 people times 1 hour = 5 hours. Multiply that by everyone’s hourly value. You better be increasing production or don’t hold the meeting.
Not only is it the wasted hours, it’s the lost production time. So unnecessary meetings are a double loss when they are not effective.
Here’s a few tips on how to have shorter and more effective meetings:
- Define the purpose of the meeting.
- Define the outcome of the meeting.
- Have a timed agenda and someone in charge.
- Facts — not opinions!
- Keep people on-point. (Only talk about matters relating to their job)
Let’s take each point:
1. Define the purpose of the meeting.
Why are we holding this meeting? If you can’t answer that, don’t hold it.
Here are some examples but you can make it whatever you want for your business.
Weekly Sales Meeting:
a) To set targets and coordinate the sales team for increased sales for the week.
b) To help the salespeople with their deals so they can sell more.
To set an agreed list of essential targets for completion across the business for the coming month. To fix responsibility for these targets and dates for their execution.
2. Define the outcome of the meeting.
An outcome is something of value. It is finished. It will be closely aligned to the purpose.
You should work toward the outcome as you are holding the meeting.
Example: Business Development outcome.
An understanding of the person/business and its challenges.
Understanding of you and your business.
Mutually beneficial opportunities identified.
It also could be: You have identified if they are a “now” prospect, a “later” prospect, or a “never” prospect.
Of course a “profitable sale to the prospect’s requirements” could also be an outcome!
3. Have a timed agenda and someone in charge.
This may apply more so to internal meetings.
Your meetings will go out of control if someone doesn’t control it! Someone should be totally responsible for obtaining the outcome of the meeting.
For a management meeting it, could go like this:
9am — Review last month’s sales, income and delivery.
9:20 — Recommend action items to increase sales, income and delivery.
9:40 — Review strategic plan and ensure action items align to it.
10am — End of meeting
4. Facts — not opinions!
Nothing will derail a meeting and waste your time than opinions, particularly if from someone who’s job it’s not! (See point 5).
Insist people come with their figures, their plans, what was done, what was not done, Their solutions to increase production etc. Challenges WITH solutions.
No one wants to listen to 10 minutes explaining why they didn’t do their job.
Someone who doesn’t mind hurrying people up and cutting people off if they are off topic should run the meeting to the agenda.
5. Keep people on-topic
(Only talk about matters relating to their job)
Simple but highly effective.
Don’t let the Sales Manager talk about how Production should be delivering.
The National Sales manager should talk about what deals they are going to get closed and what is needed to get them closed.
Production Manager should present facts relating to his area.
Coordination between different departments and roles is a vital function of meetings and you’ll get more of it if you stick to this point.
Until next time, may your meetings start on time… finish on time… and be a good use of time!
Go here to download a printed version of this article and flowchart so you can easily share this before your next meeting.