234 - 3 Tips For Speeding Up Any Meeting
When I ask people what drives them crazy in their businesses, one thing rises to the top of their lists. It’s not shareholder reports, performance reviews or company picnics.
What do they dread more than anything else?
Or rather, bad meetings.
Stay in business long enough, and you’ll be invited or required to attend a pointless meeting. While I’ve covered how the secretary of defense structures his meetings in another article for the Business Journals, this week I’d like to share how to speed up meetings — even when you’re not in charge of running it.
When your to-do list is piled high and you find yourself trapped in an unproductive meeting, how do you speed it up?
1. It starts before you sit down
What happens before a meeting has a massive effect on how productive it is. In my travels across two dozen countries studying team performance, I found that very few people took any time before a meeting to ensure it was as efficient as possible.
Before your next meeting, ask if someone has an agenda for the group to review. You can ask for an agenda under the guise of being better prepared, but there’s an alternate reason: If you can address your part of the agenda before the meeting you may be able to get out of attending altogether.
When your attendance is still required, at least you can help your team stay on track. You can always volunteer to create an agenda, which will shave minutes — if not hours — from your meeting time.
2. Involvement = speed
If you’ve made the mistake of sitting where you could see a clock or check your phone during a long meeting, you know how seconds can feel like hours. If you spend the meeting waiting for it to end, it’ll likely feel (and last) longer than if you were active and involved.
Next time, take the lead and let folks know what’s up next on the agenda so conversations stay on track. If the group wants to discuss something not on the list, ask them if everyone would like to table it for another meeting or discuss it when the other agenda items have been covered. You’ll find they’ll often be willing to push the item to the next meeting and get out sooner.
3. It isn’t over when the meeting ends
The best meetings don’t end when they’re adjourned. In fact, if your team leaves a meeting with no new commitments and accountabilities, your meeting wasn’t a meeting.
To ensure the meeting flows smoothly, accomplishes something and makes the best use of your team’s time, take responsibility for recording who has agreed to what action items. You’ll find when someone regularly recaps what folks have agreed to, everyone will want to wrap the meeting up before their plate becomes too full.
Speeding up meetings means making sure your meetings actually produce results.