Back when I was at university, I sat on a student committee and witnessed the longest and most inefficient meetings you could ever imagine.
These meetings were TOUGH, for everyone.
Don’t let this be your meeting – here’s our top tips on how to run effective meetings that get things done – FAST.
Most of my meetings were scheduled to be one hour long. To be honest, we only needed 35-40 minutes to get stuff done, but we allocated one hour anyway. Why?! There’s no rule that says meetings have to be set in 1 hour blocks. If you give a team an hour, they will probably find a way to fill it even if the topic or problem could be dealt with in half that time. Consider shortening your meetings. And if you finish early – get out of there! Don’t waste time talking just because your Google calendar says you should still be in a meeting!
Get strict with start times
Every single one of our meetings started a minimum of 15 minutes late. Every. Single. One. We all knew that there would probably be someone later than us so we kept pushing the boundaries. We also knew that there wouldn’t be any real repercussions so there was no incentive to change. Some companies lock the doors once the scheduled start time has passed. If you knew you’d be locked out, you’d make sure you were early. Sound too harsh? Well, welcome to the real world. While public shaming isn’t the solution we recommend EVERY time, it comes down to respect. Does your tardy team member respect everyone else waiting on him/her? There might be a bigger issue at hand.
Set a no electronics policy
This is super important when working with Millennial interns. Our team of 20-23 year olds couldn’t be trusted to remain focused and keep their phones switched off. Things got so bad, we were expected to hand over cell phones and close our laptops at the start of the meeting. My tip would be to set an expectation that all electronics should be kept off tables and in bags, unless we’re talking about a shared doc or calendar online that we all need to access. If someone does take out their phone while I’m talking, I simply stop and wait. They get the message pretty quickly.
Occasionally, I would sit in on meetings related to upcoming sporting events. I was bored out of my mind. I didn’t need to know any of the details – these events weren’t my responsibility. All I needed was a bullet pointed overview and to know that things were on track. Make sure you only invite relevant people, otherwise they’ll feel like their time is being wasted. Worse, they may slow things down by asking unnecessary questions in an effort to understand or contribute when it’s not necessary.
Use a timer
If you don’t feel comfortable pushing people to make a decision or nudging them back on track when the discussion has gone off topic, set a timer. Once it goes off, the team knows they have to move on. You don’t have to be the bad guy but things still get done. Also, if a task need more one-on-one discussion or clarification, just make a note to chat about it outside the meeting, as to not waste other people’s time.
Send out the agenda in advance
Okay, so not everyone reads it but it does help make sure people are prepared and (gently) stops individual members discussing non-relevant topics. It’s particularly useful to new employees or interns who may struggle to keep up in meetings. They have the opportunity to read up and prepare in advance, making meetings much more efficient for everyone.
Try out these tips and let us know what you think!
Want to get your interns up to speed? Check out The Apprentice Program and see how we can save you time, minimize stress and help you book more client events by giving your team better training.