We’ve all been there—the meeting from hell…meetings that seem pointless and unending. But there are ways to get the most out of any meeting. Focus on the purpose of the meeting and put away the distractions. “Put the smartphone down: Smartphones are great for keeping an eye on email and being accessible at a moment’s notice, but when you’re in a meeting, be in the meeting,” notes Sean O’Brien, evp of strategy and communications at PGI, a virtual meeting company.
Once everyone puts their phones away, restate the issues at hand. “What is the primary objective of the meeting – what do we hope to gain from this meeting? State this clearly in the meeting’s invitation and at the beginning of the session,” says Jacob Baldwin, search engine marketing manager.
Make sure only the key people are there. While it is great to give everyone a say in a meeting, there are some meetings that need to be limited in the numbers of people to keep the decision-making flowing. “Do the people who are here really need to be here? I’ve been in meetings where I understood that I didn’t have any business being in there, so I kindly excused myself and told the meeting organizer that unless she needed me to speak to something specifically, I wouldn’t be attending anymore,” says Baldwin. “Employees need to know to which areas they add value. Some people like to be in meetings because it makes them feel important… as a meeting organizer, select your attendees strategically and eliminate waste.”
Keep the meeting positive and proactive. “Keep people on their toes. Meetings can be boring. The blander the meeting, the more likely people are to tune out,” explains O’Brien. ”Collaborative presentations, discussions and unexpected content (like videos) help keep people engaged.” Make meeting more flexible by going virtual. “Free yourself from the office-bound meetings: with mobile business applications, users can join meetings from outside the office via mobile devices, giving workers the flexibility they desire while still meeting business demands,” says O’Brien.
Lastly, keep things rolling. Don’t get stuck on a subject. “A good rule of thumb is for every person who is in a meeting, it will take 15 more minutes for the group to come to a consensus. And ideally, meetings shouldn’t run for more than hour sprints. After that, people start to gloss over and lose attention to detail. This can be devastating, especially when making big decisions,” says Baldwin.