Whether they are internal or with customers, suppliers or external agents, meetings are crucial for any company. They help to improve communication, search for solutions, clarify issues and agree action plans. However, they can also sometimes end up becoming an excessive and unnecessary waste of time.
In fact, in 2012, the United States website Salary published a survey that revealed that half of all workers (48%) consider meetings to be the biggest waste of time in a company. As such, it can be extremely useful to set a few simple ‘ground rules’ to make these meetings more efficient, particularly in the case of internal meetings within the company.
Set a timescale
Meetings need to have a scheduled start and finish time. The start time does not tend to be such a problem, but we often forget to schedule a time for the end of the meeting. We have to be aware of the duration of the session, in order to ensure that we stay on track and on topic. In addition, when scheduling the meeting, it is a good idea to consider the workflows of the parties involved to try not to interrupt them unnecessarily. For instance, it may be wise to hold the meeting first thing rather than mid-morning.
Specify the content
It is crucial that meetings have a clear and well-defined objective. The points to be covered have to be specified in advance so that participants can come prepared, enabling the issues to be dealt with more quickly and efficiently. In addition, once again, this helps to stop us going off track.
Meetings must not turn into a conference in which a single participant speaks while the others listen. The communication must be multi-directional, with all of the different parties getting involved and taking a proactive role. In the same way, the tasks and objective that result from the meeting have to be specific. It is far more efficient if the person responsible for each particular task is specified precisely with clear deadlines being set.
Finish off with a summary
Lots of points may be covered in a meeting that drags on for several hours. Yet sometimes, at the end of the session, the participants are not 100% clear of what has been discussed and decided. As such, it is a good idea to draw the meeting to a close with a summary of the points covered, the tasks that have been appointed, the goals set and generally everything that has been discussed.
As we mentioned earlier, these tips are aimed more at internal meetings within companies. Nevertheless, in fact, they can also be implemented to other meetings with customers, suppliers, etc. However, the tips should probably be applied in a more relaxed, less strict way in this case, to ensure that they do not have a negative impact on the negotiations or deals that we are undertaking.