Meetings are notoriously dull.
They’re the bane of office life across the world. They’re also the driving force behind roughly 70 percent of office humor. So much so that Scott Adams made a career out of drawing Dilbert as he suffered in pointless meetings ordered by middle management.
Of course, there’s a reason we still like to call meetings. As a leader you need to communicate effectively, to several people at once and interactively. Meetings can offer an efficient way to keep your team on the same page. However, for meetings to work well and remain productive, you have to consider the purpose, goal and structure.
Here are five tips for a successful office meeting.
1. Outline a clear purpose
Every meeting needs clear direction. Establish a specific and clear purpose for your next meeting. What do you need your team to know? If the purpose is to cover multiple subjects, be sure to write them all down. Create an outline of topics you need to discuss and cover them in an order that is easy to follow.
Avoid discussing too many different topics. Stay focused on one or two key topics, and a handful of announcements at most. For smaller, less important follow-ups use team collaboration and messaging tools like Slack, HipChat or Samepage.
2. Don’t invite everyone
Before you announce your meeting, be sure you’ve thought about who needs the information. Does someone already know everything you’re about to say? Is a key team member in the middle of a big project?
Make sure the right people are in the room. In fact, “[n]o more than ten people at a meeting. ‘Attending meetings isn’t a badge of honor,'” according to Google VP of Business Operations Kristen Gil.
You don’t need to invite everyone. Your list of attendees should consist only of those who need to know. This way you avoid wasting their time with information that doesn’t benefit them.
3. Encourage active participation
At the meeting, which you’ve now vetted to only include relevant parties, make sure to get contributions from everyone. Give everyone a chance to share their ideas. Further, you ensure all of your employees feel heard and are able to make a significant contribution.
For instance, while working at a online retailer selling beds, I would constantly seek input during meetings. By doing this, I gave others a chance to address any questions, misconceptions or concerns they may not have come forward with earlier.
4. Remove digital distractions
Keep your team focused during the meeting. Create a “no digital” policy if needed. That includes no cell phones, tablets, televisions or projectors. Otherwise, most of your team will be distracted. And if you’re in a smaller meeting this is even more important. You’ll need everyone to be present and fully alert.
Face to face conversations make the best meetings. While screens distract employees, even the ones who are trying to pay attention. Keep them to a minimum, and only use screens when you absolutely have to.
5. Follow-up with attendees
Follow up with meeting attendees. Individual attention can help clarify the task at hand. This gives each attendee a chance to revisit topics most relevant to them and clarify expectations.
When you carefully plan your next meeting, stick to an agenda with the right people in the room — free from distraction — and follow-up, you get results.
This article has been edited.
Sara-Ruth Wolkiewicz specializes in content marketing, copy editorial, and social media management. She is very passionate about finding relevant subjects that customers need to know about, text management and edition for marketing and journalistic purposes alike, and content research and development. She believes that once we get to know our audience we can make a connection at any content (be it social media or email marketing) level. Connect with @sararuthw on Twitter.