Make your meetings effective following some simple rules from Richard Templar, bestselling author and management expert.
1. Decide in advance what the objective of the meeting
All meetings must have a definite purpose. At the end of the meeting you must be able to say whether you met that purpose. Basically, meetings have only three purposes:
- To impart information
- To brainstorm ideas (and make decisions)
- To collect information (and make decisions)
Some meetings might well take in one or more of these, but you should still be aware of that and add it into your objective. Be aware that some meetings are there to help your team meet each other, bond, socialize together, find out about each other, and see you in your true role as team leader.
2. Remain firmly in control
If you want your meetings to be effective, then remain firmly in control. You are the manager and you are in charge. To be effective you shouldn’t allow anyone to reminisce, ramble, jabber on, or refuse to shut up or relax. Keep ’em moving fast and get them out of the door as soon as you can.
You decide who keeps the minutes—and make sure he does, and to your liking. You don’t have to be bossy or aggressive about this, just firm, friendly, and utterly in control.
3. Start all meetings on time.
Never wait for anyone. Never go back over stuff for latecomers. If they’ve missed something vital, they can get it from others after the meeting, and it’ll teach ’em to be on time next time. Useful tip—never schedule meetings to begin exactly on the hour, always say 3:10 p.m. rather than 3 o’clock. You’ll find people will always be more punctual if you set an “odd” time.
4. Schedule the meeting far enough in advance
Not too far, so that no one can say they had something else to do. Confirm the day before with everyone to make sure they have remembered and can make it.
5. You don’t do “any other business”—ever.
If it’s important it should be on the agenda. If it isn’t, then it shouldn’t be there at all. “Any other business” is invariably someone trying to get something over on someone else. Don’t allow it—ever.
6. Make sure every point on the agenda ends up with an action plan
No action plan means it was just a chat.
7. Hold all meetings on uncomfortable chairs, or even standing
That speeds things up considerably.
Adapted by The Rules of Management, Richard Templar, FT Press