Tips for effective meetings
According to research conducted by Microsoft®, the average business person in the U.S. spends at minimum roughly 5.5 hours in meetings each week. This study also revealed that 71 percent of those attending these meetings found them to be utterly unproductive.To further crunch those numbers, there are more than 11 million meetings held each year in the U.S. alone. Other studies have indicated that the “higher up” someone is in an organizational or system’s infrastructure, the more time he or she spends in meetings. On average, so-called middle management spends 35 percent of their time in meetings, while upper-level management spends 50 percent of their time in meetings. Most organizations spend 7-15 percent of their personnel resources on meetings.

If your team is holding a meeting, it better be worth it. How can you quell the inner meeting character in you and your team to ensure that meetings are effective and worth the time they consume? We have a few tips for you …

  1. Start your meetings, presentations and training sessions with an ice-breaker or warm-up activity (try our fortune teller or our hexidice). In a highly populated or a time-sensitive meeting, the ice-breaker can be a single question that gets people thinking and talking with their neighbor.
  2. Diversify your presentation methods. If every speaker talks to the audience, in lecture format, even interested heads soon nod. So instead, mix it up: Ask people to talk in small groups, use audio-visual materials such as overheads, PowerPoint presentations and pictures, or, if you’re talking about a new painting process, show your employees before and after parts. Don’t forget to keep time in check—desktop timers can be incredibly useful for meetings.
  3. Encourage questions to get a dialogue going. This may mean that meetings will shift from lecture format to a more interactive one, but that’s good! What’s more, encouraging everyone to provide input when appropriate not only adds to the meeting’s effectiveness, it creates buy-in by way of participation. Bonus tip: Some people find that it helps move the pace of a meeting along by asking attendees to come with questions prepared.
  4. Set goals for your meetings. You often can’t cover everything in one-hour meeting so develop what it is that should be accomplished and build an agenda that works to achieve these goals. Start with the most important items first to ensure that they get covered before time runs short. Bonus tip: An article in the Wall Street Journal, several years ago, stated that managers would save eighty percent of the time they waste in meetings if they did two things correctly. The first was to always have an agenda. The second was start on time and end on time.
  5. Organize the physical environment so people are attentive to meeting content. No one should sit behind or to the side of your speakers. Make sure there are seats for all attendees, and if taking notes is required, a surface to write on, too. Go the extra mile and make sure plenty of pens and paper pads are available to all attendees. Make sure visuals are visible and that people can hear. You may need to use a microphone. You can pass props or samples around the room for viewing.

Meetings don’t have to be vortexes of lost time. They can be fun! And effective! Just take these tips and make your next meeting the most efficient one yet!

For more information on planning, hosting and measuring effective meetings, read the Blue Paper®!

 

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