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Optimize Your Meetings

For most industry professionals, meetings take up a vast majority of our time. We’re meeting with our internal staff, a board of directors, stakeholders, and clients – sometimes all in one day! We all have pressing deadlines, important phone calls to make, emails to send, and multiple balls in the air, and the last thing anyone wants to do is waste time in a long, drawn-out meeting.

If you’re the meeting host, it’s important to optimize the time. We should always aim to be as efficient and effective as possible in the allotted meeting time. At VPDCS, we’ve implemented five simple measures that have proven to be invaluable. Our meetings have become more concise and action-oriented than ever before.

Five Easy Ways to Optimize Your Next Meeting:

1. Prepare an Agenda

Yes, even for internal meetings. An agenda forces everyone to stay on track. It enables attendees to come prepared with an understanding of the meeting objectives.

Showing you’re prepared goes a long way.   A thorough agenda shows that you value everyone’s time and that you’re invested in the outcome of the meeting.

2. Start and End on Time

If your meeting is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M., make sure it actually does. Don’t allow idle conversation and weekend recaps to delay your meeting – especially if you included time allocations on your agenda!

Even if everyone hasn’t arrived, you should still begin the meeting on time. The awkwardness of walking into a meeting already in progress is usually enough to deter people from showing up late a second time.

If you work in a building similar to ours with a lot of employees competing for limited conference space, you often don’t have the luxury of extending a meeting. So if your meeting is scheduled to conclude by 12 P.M. please be courteous and see that it does. You may have to schedule a brief follow-up meeting to wrap up any loose ends. If that’s the case, consider incorporating a huddle instead.

3. Conduct a Huddle

A huddle, or a standup, is a brief, condensed version of a meeting. If you’re just reporting project status, need an alignment confirmation, or simply passing along a quick update, huddles are the way to go.

We’ve incorporated team huddles across our various departments and project teams. Our huddles range from 5-15 minutes, occur weekly or bi-weekly – you can adjust the cadence to fit your specific needs – and they replace the need for formal meetings. We encourage our staff to stand for the duration (hence the term “standup”) so we’re more likely to keep it brief and to the point.

4. Have Actionable Next Steps

The purpose of your meeting should always be clear. Everyone should be able to leave the room knowing what’s to come and what’s expected of them. Never end a meeting without clearly defining your team’s next steps.

The last line item on your agenda should always include time for discussing questions and next steps. Not only will it ensure that it takes place, but it’s a subtle reminder for attendees that there’s a goal you’re working toward.

5. Send a Meeting Recap

Regardless of how brief or extensive your meeting was, always send a recap. A meeting recap is often the only written documentation of your meeting. It will hold your team accountable, remind them of their roles and responsibilities within the project, and help bring someone who was absent up to speed.

A well-constructed recap can help reduce the number of meetings you need to conduct as well as reduce the need to circle back to an old topic in future meetings.

How does your organization optimize meetings? Leave a comment below!

Article written by:

Devin Bond

Client Success Team Leader – Associations

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(800) 773-7798

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Traverse City, MI 49686