How to Run an Efficient Meeting

For busy people there’s not much worse than attending a disorganised, ineffectual meeting. To be sure you’re making the most of your colleagues’, clients’ or customers’ time, follow these simple tips to running an effective, efficient meeting.

Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!

As per the classic boy scout quote “be prepared”. Be prepared – people notice. There are no excuses, and you will get caught out if you, if you’re not prepared.

Prepare the agenda, the paperwork, and the room. Book the room you want 30 minutes earlier than you need it so you can get in and get ready without having to boot the last people out and rush.

Wipe the table so the room is fresh. Arrange the chairs so it looks like someone cares. Have the room ready at least 15 minutes early because people will arrive early and you must look prepared, rather than rushing to get your stuff together - people notice!

Be punctual

Good meetings run to time. If they start at 9am, they start at 9.00am. Not 9.05am. Not 9.10am. Be known for being punctual and you’ll get more time in your day, and won’t be left waiting for people to arrive. Email or text your guests the day before the meeting to re-confirm the day and time. Be in the room ready to go and the attendees will get the message that your meetings start on time.

Set the agenda

At the outset, remind everyone why they’re here and what outcome you’re looking for. Have an outcome in mind. We are all grown-ups and know what is going on generally. Move on and do not waste time. Do the maths……meetings are expensive.

Control the meeting

Nothing is more painful than a meeting where everyone is talking at once or are side conversations are happening (especially if someone has dialled in). If it happens, shut it down fast. State at the beginning that one person speaks at a time. It’s the only way for people to be heard and that, of course, is the reason for the meeting.

We know what it’s like to be harassed, laughed at and abused for asking anyone wanting to speak to raise their hand. We don’t care. It works perfectly. Try it!

Our message is simple - if it’s your meeting, chair it. Make it work and you’ll get a much better outcome. Don’t let it run itself. It won’t.

Next steps

Always end a meeting with next steps. Do not let anyone leave until they know what they have to do. It’s so easy to just end the meeting and run. Get in your head that a meeting does not finish until ‘next steps’ are summarised and agreed. Ideally these will be documented so there is a responsibility trail.

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