Meetings can be a pain, we know. They can go off topic, last too long, or feel unnecessary. It can be stressful when your schedule is full of meetings with no time to actually do your work, which makes you even more resentful when you get a new calendar invite.
But whether we like it or not, we do need to have meetings sometimes. Here are five ways to host a kickass meeting that will leave you feeling energized, instead of annoyed.
1. Schedule your meetings for a ½ hour instead of 1 hour.
This isn’t always possible, because sometimes you really do need that full hour, but you’d be surprised how quickly you can get through agenda items when there’s a smaller time frame. People tend to fill up the time they have, whether it’s efficient or not, so try scheduling your meetings at least 15 minutes shorter than you normally would, and just see what happens.
2. Write a (good) agenda, and stick to it.
Yes, we all mean well when we set up meetings and promise to create an agenda, but how many of us follow through on that promise? And if we do follow through, how thought-out is the agenda? Does your team stick to it? It’s critical to have someone leading the meeting, making sure everyone keeps to the agenda items. Casual conversations are fine before the meeting starts and for a few minutes at the end, but don’t let your meeting get de-railed halfway through.
3. Take notes, but not too many.
It’s helpful to circulate notes at the end of each meeting, and even more helpful when there are action items for everyone to take away, but don’t feel like you need to record everything that was said. If you spend the whole time writing notes, you won’t contribute as much as you should. Actively participating in the conversation is more important than capturing your boss talking about her weekend.
4. Prep like it’s the most important meeting you’ve ever been to.
This is another situation where everyone means well, and intends to prep, but workloads and schedules get overwhelming, and then you have a group of people staring at each other in a board room hoping someone else says the first word. Block off time in your calendar for 30 minutes before each meeting (if you can), and take that time to read the agenda, do any pre-work, and literally think about what you want to communicate in the meeting.
5. Schedule buffer time.
Reserve the first and last five minutes of each meeting for people to get coffee, run between meetings, go to the washroom, grab a snack — whatever. You’ll deal with less of the “Sorry I’m Late!” business, and everyone will feel more prepared.
Bonus: Do you really need a meeting?
“Could this have been an email?” — You should ask yourself this each time you schedule a meeting for you and your team. If you need to communicate something, but it could be summed up in a brief email, or if you can stop by someone’s desk for to quickly chat a concept through, don’t book a meeting. Once you start living like this, you’ll notice how much more you can get done in a day.
What are your best tips and tricks around making meetings efficient? Share them below.