Love them or loathe them, meetings are an essential part of the world of work, so it makes sense to make the most of your time communicating and collaborating with others with more productive meetings.
If you feel like your meetings should be a lot more productive than they are at the moment, here are some handy tips that will help you optimize the way they operate.
Just because you are accustomed to using a specific meeting format does not mean that this is the best fit for your team. In fact there are lots of alternatives to standup meetings that are worth trying out if you are looking to make improvements.
One option is to stop relying on face-to-face get-togethers in order to provide daily progress updates and instead allow staff to keep everyone in the loop via an instant messaging app like Slack instead. This will prevent a meeting from breaking the flow of the working day and still get the pertinent information about the current state of play to those who need it.
Meetings which drag on longer than intended can be the most frustrating and least productive, so even if you find that you have not got to every point you hoped to tackle in the allotted time, be stringent and bring proceedings to a close sooner rather than later.
In general it is best to keep meetings to a maximum length of one hour, but if you think you can afford to dip below this time limit, this is preferable to exceeding it.
This is all the more relevant for those who have multiple meetings to attend each day, since meetings with overrun can be a real productivity sink.
There is little point to holding a meeting if at the end you do not have a set of goals in addition to a definitive outline of how you intend to achieve them.
It is far better to assign individuals or teams items to take action on, making sure that everyone knows who is responsible for what aspect of any follow-up work that has been decided upon in the meeting.
The temptation to cram as many people into a meeting space as possible may be overpowering, but if you can resist it you will find that your get-togethers are far more productive even if a smaller number of individuals are in attendance.
Having nine or fewer people present for meetings will generally mean that people can have their say and absorb relevant information, without everything descending into a battle to control the direction of the conversation.
If you are intending to make meetings more productive, the chances are that you are the person who will be responsible for overseeing proceedings. In this instance, you can be proactive in your approach to chairing the meeting and should be willing and able to use your position to make a positive impact.
For example, in the case that points which have already been made by one attendee are then repeated by someone else, you can step in to move the discussion forwards. You should also make it your duty to give everyone a fair chance to speak their mind, rather than allowing the more confident members of the team to run away with the debate.
Ultimately a meeting will only be productive if the person at the helm is eager to take the reins and stick to a predetermined agenda.