If you manage a new or growing venture, chances are that you spend a lot of your time in meetings. Among others, meetings are critical to strategize new opportunities, assess different ways to accomplish tasks, set and update goals, and to ensure that all team members are aligned.
However, since ventures must focus the majority of their time and efforts on executing opportunities, there is a significant risk for them to spend too much time in meetings strategizing. This article provides some tips to keep meetings effective.
While researching this topic, one of the first ideas we came across was the following: "Meetings at which all participants stay on their feet are a third shorter than sit-down conferences -- and the decisions made in them are just as sound."
Reading this immediately told us that there is no "one-size-fits-all" strategy for effective meetings, since we have been in extremely effective meetings that have lasted two hours. If everyone had been standing, those meetings would have collapsed (literally and figuratively) within the first hour.
So, choosing which effective meeting tips to employ depends upon the challenges that your organization faces.
For example, do your meetings go off on tangents? Do you have clashing personalities within meetings that have trouble agreeing on action plans? Etc.
Here are five meeting tips that should help most organizations:
1. Set meeting objectives and an agenda in advance.
2. Don't invite everyone to the meeting; only invite the people who are required to make the key decisions and/or execute on them.
3. Establish a time limit for the meeting. It's probably best to keep meetings to less than two hours (most people get antsy even after two hours of a good movie).
4. When tangential issues come up in the meeting, determine whether they should be explored during the meeting or a new meeting set up to discuss them. If the latter, immediately go back to the main point of the meeting.
5. Make sure no one rambles. If someone is hogging the airspace, particularly if they are not making clear, concise points, do something to stop them.
And perhaps the most important tip is to avoid meeting at all. That is, if the goal of the meeting can be accomplished via an email, memo or report, the most efficient course is not to have the meeting at all.