98% of all meetings can typically suffice with a simple email.
Bottom line: forget the chit-chat and get to the issues. Meetings should take no more than 15 minutes. If they do, you haven't properly prepared, are abusing the time of others, and are costing your company money.
I once worked with a company that held typical Monday morning round-table meetings.
Like so many companies, these meetings were meant to bring team members together, share updates and discuss strategies for the week.
In reality, the first 15 minutes was typically wasted on mindless “chit chat” and “catching up”, followed by 10 minutes of sidebar tangents, 10 minutes of actual updates from various team members, and finally 15 minutes of random discussions without any focus or direction.
Does this sound familiar?
Nearly one hour every Monday morning wasted on what could've been achieved with a quick email or conference call.
The worst part: although management knew their meetings were ineffective, they made no attempt to improve or maximize them. They continued running the same old meetings yet expected different results, all the while revenue slid slowly into the ground.
Just like any skill, in order to run effective meetings you have to work at it. You don't simply get everybody in the room and wing it. Nothing will ever get accomplished and employees will grow increasingly frustrated.
Each of us has the same 24 hours in the day so why not invest a little time in maximizing the effectiveness of our outputs? With a few small adjustments, good meetings can quickly start paying huge dividends.
How to run an effective staff meeting in 3 easy steps
Step 1: If you're a gong-show yourself, don't expect others to be rockstars.
Especially true at the managerial level, if you want others to perform at a higher level you have to lead by example. Show up on time, come prepared and stay disciplined.
Step 2: If you haven't spent more time preparing for the meeting than the actual length of the meeting itself, you're simply disrespecting other people's time and have no business calling a meeting.
Never ask, "so what would you guys like to talk about today?”. No joke, I once saw a manager start a meeting like this!
Come prepared with a clear purpose and agenda. This means sending an agenda to all meeting participants at least 24 hours in advance outlining why you're having the meeting and highlighting the various issues you plan to solve during the meeting.
Remember, everyone works differently, some better in the morning, some better at night, some are visual learners, and some work best in short focused bursts.
By giving people ample notice of the issues to be discussed you give them the opportunity to think and work how they work best.
This will result in far more effective and creative solutions when everyone finally comes to the table.
Raising an issue and then putting people on the spot to come up with a solution is no way to maximize the creative power of your team. Leverage creative power by allowing team members sufficient time for their creative process to formulate solutions.
Step 3: Once all issues have been addressed the most important aspect of any meeting is not the meeting itself but rather the follow up afterward.
So many meetings end with people walking away wondering, "what the hell just happened to the last hour of my life??".
If the issues cannot be resolved in the meeting itself, action plans with deadlines must be assigned to corresponding team members. It is then critically important to follow-up with each team member regarding the status of each action plan.
A meeting without proper follow-up creates complete dysfunction, which leads to zero performance.
Key Takeaway: ineffective leaders = ineffective organizations = zero performance.
Never disrespect the time of others. If you don't have your own self in order don't call a meeting with others.
When you do call a meeting come prepared by first notifying all team members why the meeting is being called, and highlight the key issues that the meeting will attempt to resolve.
If the issues cannot be resolved in the meeting itself, assign a team member(s) with the task of developing an action plan to resolve said issues. Give them a clear deadline and ensure everyone at the table is cognisant of this deadline.
Continue following-up with each team member until all issues have been resolved. Don't call another meeting until all issues from the previous meeting have been successfully settled.