You know how it goes: sometimes it seems your whole day is spent in meetings. Before you know it, the day is done and there´s still a lot to accomplish. How can you facilitate better, more productive meetings? Follow these steps and you´ll engage your team and inspire their commitment.
1. Prepare! Set the ground rules. Have you ever been in a meeting that resembles a free-for-all? Meetings like this often start late, proceed helter-skelter and leave participants vowing to miss the next one. Prime your gathering for success: First, distribute an agenda ahead of time. Start the meeting by letting everyone know up front what the purpose of the meeting is, and what the goal is.
2. Convene in advance: If you´re presenting a controversial or debatable topic in your meeting, people are likely to take sides and shepherd the cause that benefits them most. How can you get everyone aligned for the greater goal at hand? Try chatting with a few colleagues in advance to get their opinions and comments before your meeting starts. Doing a little advance work may pay off later.
3. Start and end on time: Respect people´s schedules by starting and ending on time. Enough said.
4. Be impartial: This can be difficult to do, especially if you´re passionate about your topic. Remember that everyone may not share your enthusiasm and excitement, so make sure you are open to different ideas. At the same time, monitor the discussion so that it doesn´t get off track.
5. Summarize and share: While it´s true that most of us don´t need an extra email or piece of paper, we do appreciate a brief reminder of what was covered in a meeting, what assignments were given and what the next step is. Done correctly, your summary can reinforce that commitment and engagement you´re after.
6. Anticipate surprises: Face it, you never know what´s going to happen, so preparation is key (look back at #1, above). A good way to do this is to rehearse your agenda in advance, perhaps in front of your boss or another colleague. Find out what questions they have, have the answers in your pocket and you´ll be ready to roll!