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7 Steps to Making Your Meetings More Effective

All too often, our schedules become completely booked with back to back meetings and leave us questioning at the end of the day whether our time was spent effectively. The truth is, meetings are one of the most expensive time wasters in business. According to a study performed by Altassian, the average employee attends 62 meetings per month. If we assume the average meeting is 1 hour and the average American worker is paid $24.57 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average monthly cost of meetings is $1,523 per employee. The cost of meetings continues to grow exponentially depending on the number of team members and their seniority.

However, when executed effectively, meetings can be the necessary instrument for a team to drive improvement and deliver results. Keywords, when executed effectively!

Here are 7 steps to making your meetings more effective:

  1. Clearly Outline the Goal/Objectives of the Meeting

First off, ask the question, do we need a meeting to meet this objective. If not, then go with the alternative and do not hold the meeting. Once there is an objective, communicate this to all attendees so they can be engaged and understand the reason they are devoting their time.

  1. Distribute Agenda and Materials Prior to the Meeting

All effective meetings have an agenda and more importantly, they follow the agenda. The agenda should be distributed prior to the meeting to allow participants to prepare useful contributions. Other materials that will be reviewed or referenced should also be distributed whether this be performance dashboards, budgets, or schedules.

  1. Ensure Attendees Come Prepared to Contribute

Although distributing the agenda and materials before the meeting will allow for participant engagement, this is not all that’s needed. It’s also important to establish the expectation with your attendees that everyone will be consulted/called to contribute.

  1. Keep to the Time Contract

37% of meetings start late and an even larger percentage run over time. To ensure meetings are no longer than intended, start and end the meeting as per the agenda. It can also help to designate one participant as the timekeeper to prevent the meeting from running over.

  1. Table Discussions that don’t Align with the Objective or Agenda

A certain degree of discussion is obviously needed during a meeting. However, when this discussion does not follow the agenda or is not driving towards the goal, the meeting facilitator should step in and reschedule the separate the discussion.

  1. Assign Actions to Owners with Due Dates

For a meeting to be effective, there must be follow up actions. Effective meetings do a good job capturing these actions and assigning them to a sole owner with a due date. To close the meeting, it’s always good to review the decisions, action items, accountable owners and due dates.

  1. Follow up on actions assigned prior to the next meeting

Effective meetings are only 20% meeting, 80% of the work associated is with effective follow-up and preparation. Without effective follow up on the actions assigned the meeting becomes a waste of time.

Following these steps will ensure your meetings are not an unnecessary cost to your organization and instead a tool used to achieve results. It is important to remember that good meetings do not just happen, they are managed events!