We’ve all attended meetings that accomplish little more than interrupting our day, hindering productivity instead of helping it along. But with a few focused changes, you can turn every meeting into a motivating exchange of vital information. Here’s some tips from industry leaders that can crank up your meetings’ effectiveness, and in the process guarantee a worthwhile use of everyone’s time.
Start with silence
Major groundbreaking companies like Amazon and Square start each meeting with up to 30 minutes of silent time, set aside for attendees to read meeting memos and agendas while in the room to eliminate the risk of leaving someone behind who didn’t have time to fully prepare beforehand. Once everyone’s on the same page, the meeting begins.
Leave the laptops closed
One of the biggest distractions at meetings are open laptops, more often than not splitting attention between the discussion at hand and an altogether different task on-screen. Successful meetings require everyone is 100% present and involved, and e-mails, Facebook and other diversions can take a meeting from gangbusters to dead in the water. Follow the lead of Google’s former CEO and current chair Eric Schmidt in asking everyone to leave the computers out of the meeting room.
Keep the phone in the pocket
While social media activity is a boon at any event, when it comes to internal meetings it’s best the phones stay out of sight, out of mind. It’s important to establish a no-checking-phones rule during meetings, and some companies go one step further with a basket on the conference room table to hold everyone’s mobile. And besides, those tweets can wait and catching up on missed calls is what voicemail is for!
Ownership and purpose
Meetings experts suggest that every gathering large or small needs someone in charge and a specific purpose for even taking place. Be it a brainstorming session or an all-company meeting, make sure the reasons for pulling everyone together are clear and concise. Always ensure there’s a facilitator, timekeeper and note taker for follow-up actions. And having some meeting leadership makes sure that important decisions get made rather than groupthink compromises.
Narrow down the guestlist
Current thinking in maintaining productivity when it comes to meetings is to keep the list of participants down to eight or less, each responsible for reporting back to their team. By keeping attendees limited, you’ll also be including just the necessary folks from the office while everyone else can focus on the work at hand.
Only call a meeting when a meeting is a must
Perhaps the most important tip of all – if you don’t need a meeting, don’t call one!
Read this next: Do your diversity and inclusion programs have blind spots?