Due to Covid-19, meetings are taking place online in most cases. Whatever way you attend or manage meetings, you want to keep meetings short.
Thorough meeting preparation alleviates anxiety. Good planning guarantees that meetings are relevant and don’t overrun. They are not held back by uniformed, boring, or disinterested attendees. Follow these top timeless tips to keep your meetings on track and on time.
When preparing your agenda aim to keep your meeting short
1. Identify the aim of your meeting
2. Put the most important items first
3. Establish a clear outcome for each point
4. Put some thought into choosing meeting invitees. Ask yourself, “Who should attend?” “Should attendees be present for all or part of the meeting?”
5. Place controversial points towards the end. This way, the early part of the meeting can flow in a smooth and efficient way.
6. Try to limit time for check-in and introductions. Schedule time for people to share, “Who I am, my role in the company, and why I’m here.”
Distribute a specific agenda at least one week before the meeting. Make sure that everyone attending has all the information they need. Presenters should know exactly what their allotted time is.
When circulating the agenda, state that the meeting will start sharp and end on time. This will set the tone for an efficient meeting. It is critical that the meeting Chair sticks to the timeline.
The meeting day
- Rehearse your presentation (if applicable)
- Arrive/Sign in early
- Double-check equipment
- Any meeting longer than 30 minutes should have drinks available throughout. If a virtual meeting, encourage all to grab a drink to minimise disruptions.
- If it’s an important meeting, bring a colleague with you to take notes so you can concentrate on the meeting. A discreet alternative is to record the meeting. Do check there are no objections from attendees.
During the meeting to keep meetings short
- Avoid giving all handouts at the beginning of the meeting. Attendees often leaf through the paperwork instead of being attentive.
- Unfortunately, well-planned meetings can be derailed by meeting participants. If you have an assertive meeting chair, s/he can get the meeting back on track. Yet, anyone can step in if they have the confidence or organisational clout.
- An upright and open posture is commanding. You can change the volume, pitch, speed, or tone of your voice. This will keep people’s interest and engagement by leaning forward.
- Monitoring other people’s body language can keep you on top of the meeting. Involve slouching or disinterested people by asking for their opinions.
- When it is your turn to present, remind others that your aim is to keep the meeting as short as possible. Your intention can motivate others to do the same.
- If speakers are long-winded or have a personal agenda, you can take control. Do this by assuming a moderator’s role with a few well-placed interruptions. Say “May we address the next item on our agenda?” or “Would it be possible for us to go over the details later? Or “Can we discuss the specifics offline?”
- Suggest a short toilet break to stretch if the meeting is dragging.
- If an argument or unresolved item prolongs a meeting, call the formal part of the meeting to an end. Organise a separate meeting to address the issue.
- Before ending the meeting, solidify specific task ownership and action items.
To summarise to keep meetings short
Check your valuable time isn’t usurped by an endless meeting. Communicate in advance that you are only available for the scheduled meeting time. Excuse yourself if the meeting runs overtime.
Start and end your own meetings on time. Develop a reputation for short, well-organized gatherings. Your colleagues will respect you. They will contribute much more when they feel you value their time. If you are struggling to manage the meeting set up, why not give us a shout and get in touch.
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