5 Things You Can do to Run Effective Meetings
September 5, 2018 • by Herb Dew
$242. That’s how much it costs the average company per person per meeting.
In other words, a meeting with 5 people in it, costs upwards of $1200. For Fortune 501-2000 companies, the cost per person increases to $372.
It’s not news that meetings have a bad reputation for being a waste of time. It is always mentioned when leaders bring up the obstacle of time wasting to me. Too many schedules bogged down with meetings, so the next meeting can be set where we will plan the meeting after that in which we will meet about the meeting intended for us to accomplish what we needed to in the original meeting.
Although, they’re proven to be extremely beneficial to companies, if they’re run effectively. How does one run a meeting effectively? In my experience, these are the steps I have found to be effective.
Have a set day for meetings.
I’ve seen several companies that effectively manage this in a couple different ways. At HTI we modeled this by changing our internal meeting policy to make people’s time more effective. Monday is now defined as meeting day. That way all the leaders can be in the office for one set day and nobody worries about tracking anybody down. This leaves Tuesday to Friday as days the team can be effective and not caught up in meetings. Science says Tuesday afternoon is the best time to meet. I encourage you to find what works best for your organization.
Set a defined outcome for the meeting.
What is the purpose of this meeting? Making a decision? Solving a problem? Brainstorming? Project planning? Process improvement? If it doesn’t fall into one of these categories, reconsider if it’s worth meeting about at all. If it is, make sure the meeting begins with a clear statement of this purpose.
Reduce the number of people at each meeting.
Another benefit of setting Monday as meeting day is it forces only the most important meetings to take place and only the absolutely necessary parties to be there for the meeting. Remember, it’s costing you somewhere between $250-$350 for each person you have there. Don’t misunderstand me though. It’s just as critical to ensure you have the right perspectives and knowledge in the meeting to yield valuable results. As the leader of the meeting, refer to the end goal for this meeting when considering the invitation list.
Be present mentally when you’re present physically.
As a leader, you set this precedent by modeling the way for others to follow. Similarly, as the meeting facilitator, there are many things you can do to help your participants switch gears into “meeting mode.” Encourage closing laptops and putting away cell phones. If there are employees who feel the need to work while in the meeting, give them sincere permission to leave the meeting and tend to that work. Lead the meeting with this information and let them know you take no offense to this if they feel they have more pressing matters and have added all the value they can.
Teach your leaders how to run effective meetings.
Pass on this information to every leader in your organization. When you’ve been leading for as long as I have, what started as intentional planning and careful checking and re-checking becomes second nature. As a result, we tend to harbor more information than we mean to. The greatest disservice any organizational leader can do, is to hoard their knowledge and experience.
If you’re in a company or leadership position right now and you find there are a million meetings you attend, I challenge you to consider starting with these tips. If you’re able to successfully implement these tools, it will increase your organizational effectiveness and create a culture of meeting effectiveness.