Even in our highly computerized and technology-driven workplaces, we still seem to spend an awful lot of time in meetings. Most employees attend an incredible 62 meetings a month. Now that’s a lot of time spent talking and not actually doing! And so we all need to ask ourselves, are these meetings, in fact, productive? What’s actually been achieved as a result? Why not do your own research. Ask a sample of colleagues around the office how they feel about meetings. The chances are a high percentage will say that most meetings are just talking shops and accomplish very little.
So what can you do to change that perception and to ensure that the meetings in your organization are productive? Well, in this post, we detail six ways to help you get the most of your business meetings. And we also look at how the company intranet can assist you in that process.
1. Start At The End
This may sound counterintuitive, but often the best place to start when planning your meetings is, in fact, at the end. Being clear from the outset about what you want to achieve as a result of the meeting is fundamental to its success. Write down a list of goals and use that to plan your agenda as well as to determine the right people to invite as attendees. In addition, open the meeting with a clear statement about what you’re all there to achieve so that everyone shares that vision.
2. Develop A Powerful Agenda
The agenda is the key tool when it comes to managing the meeting, and so its power is not to be underestimated. Use the agenda to reinforce the expected outputs from the meeting and put time limits on each agenda item. That way, participants have a clear idea of the relative importance of each agenda item, and it will help you to manage the discussions in the meeting and keep people on point. What’s more, it’s a good idea to set a clear finish time for the meeting. For participants attending, knowing that there’s only, say, 60 minutes to get through all the items is a good way to focus the mind.
3. Prepare And Then Prepare Some More
Send out as much information in advance as you can. We’ve all been in meetings where a good 15 minutes is wasted while people read through the minutes of the last meeting because they weren’t sent out in advance. Likewise, if there is background information or explanatory papers people really need to digest and think about in advance, then make sure they have the opportunity to do so, rather than taking up valuable time within the meeting. A roomful of people who haven’t done their homework is just a waste of everyone’s time so set clear expectations in advance.
4. Carefully Consider Who Should Attend
How many times have you been invited to a meeting seemingly just to make up the numbers? We’ve all had the experience of going along to meetings that really weren’t directly relevant to us. And while it’s nice to be inclusive and get a broad range of representation and views on an issue, overdoing it can be counterproductive. So think carefully about who you need to invite to achieve whatever objective it is that you’ve set in step one. And make sure that they are must-haves rather than optional extras.
5. Take Charge Of The Meeting
How the meeting is chaired and managed is another important element in ensuring its success. A firm hand is required to steer people through the agenda and to stick to the timings. What’s more, the chair needs to ensure that the outputs and what the meeting is there to achieve are firmly in everyone’s mind throughout the discussions. An effective chair needs to be willing to step in and take control if attendees stray off the agenda and get sidetracked on other issues. And they also need to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute, including the less confident.
6. Follow-Up After The Meeting
Follow-up the meeting as soon as possible with a written record of the outputs and any actions required by participants. It’s surprising how many people spend many hours on getting steps 1-5 right and then neglect to send out any minutes straightaway. In fact, there’s many a meeting where the minutes only appear along with the agenda for the next one! Holding people to account for any outstanding actions is much harder if a record of the meeting isn’t sent out on time.
And so it seems clear that meetings will continue to have an important part to play in the modern workplace, but it’s also true to say that they can be expensive once you’ve added up the time and resources they consume. It’s, therefore, incumbent on every manager to make sure the meetings that are held are as productive as possible.
Use The Power Of Your Intranet
And as well as utilizing the tips we’ve already discussed, the company intranet can also help keep you on track. How? Well, let’s look at some practical ways the intranet can facilitate productive meetings in your organization.
Identification Of Appropriate Personnel
Use the intranet’s user profiles and biographies to quickly and easily identify potential attendees from across the organization. Setting up a meeting to review the organization-wide customer experience? Perhaps you’re looking for expertise in relation to digital marketing? The specialist areas and current work projects highlighted in user profiles will help you identify the internal knowledge which will be crucial to the success of your meeting.
Dissemination Of Information
Set up a project space on the intranet to share background information and papers. Only invited users will be able to view and share the information so even potentially sensitive data can be posted as access is restricted. Attendees know that all the relevant paperwork is located on the intranet, which means there’s no need to keep emailing participants every time there’s an amendment to the agenda or an updated report.
Checking Who Has Read What
The intranet can automatically notify you when an attendee has read the required background paperwork. You can then chase up any participants that haven’t yet done so rather than using up valuable time in the meeting. And so the intranet helps you ensure that when the meeting kicks off, all attendees are up to speed and ready to contribute.
Follow-Up On Action Points
Use the intranet’s project space to publish the meeting’s action points and monitor and follow up on progress. Embedding an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet directly in the intranet page means that all meeting participants can update their own action points in real-time. Therefore, accountability for keeping things up to date is shared across all members and isn’t just the responsibility of the chair or another individual.
These are just some of the ways in which an intranet can assist your organization in the task of making meetings productive. It may be that you have other tips or new ways of working that have helped your company to accomplish more in meetings, and if so, we’d love to hear your ideas.
Interested in finding out more about how an intranet can improve productivity across the board in your business? Then get in touch with us here at MyHub or see for yourself with a no-obligation demo or 14-day free trial.