Planning meetings is undoubtedly a time-consuming task. And, with our working weeks now becoming busier than ever, it’s time to get smart about how we dedicate our precious time. In fact, last year a European survey of 2,000 employees in the UK, France and Germany unveiled that the average employee wastes nearly 13 working days every year in ‘unproductive meetings’*. So what can we do to ensure that our meetings are managed in the most effective way to get things done and achieve targets as a team?
The Grand Brighton, one of only 31 AIM gold accredited venues in the UK, helps organise and facilitate hundreds of meetings for large and small businesses every year. Here we talk to the hotel’s General Manager, Andrew Mosley, about his five steps to achieving mindful meetings with clients and colleagues alike.
“It takes skill and patience to not get sidetracked in an hour-long or so session, and to stay on agenda when managing a meeting with several attendees. But dedicating time away from your desk to collaborate as a team can be incredibly rewarding, and it’s a great way to get project planning or brainstorming wrapped up in a short amount of time. These are just a few reminders that I use to stay on task in a meeting…”
Be strict with your time
Before you even attend your next meeting, remember to be strict with your time. If you’ve been invited to a meeting which doesn’t require your area of expertise, or you don’t feel that you’d be best at contributing to the set agenda, then delegate the meeting or suggest re-focusing the itinerary to your business priorities.
Arrive early and be present
For those important meet-ups, arrive early and set your intention for the meeting before you enter. What do you want to get out of it? What points are you keen to raise with your peers? Having a clear vision of how you want to spend your allotted meeting time will ensure that you’ve done your part in staying on topic.
Set the ground rules
As a team, set your ground rules for acceptable meeting behaviour. Often, this is as simple as reminding the team that everyone should have the opportunity to speak, but only one person should talk at a time whilst the rest of the group listens mindfully. I also find that implementing a ban on electronic devices is really helpful, as it can be tempting to have your attention focused on your email inbox rather than being present in the room.
Start with a clear agenda and stick to it
If you’re chairing the meeting be clear about why you’ve all grouped together. Remind everyone of what needs to be accomplished in the allotted time, and keep your agenda as concise as possible. This will give you the chance to go in-depth on each point raised, and ensure that everyone at the table is heard. It’s normal for conversations to wander, but remind the group that any points outside of the agenda can go in the ‘parking lot’ list of discussion for the end of the meeting or your next catch up. At the end of the meeting, re-cap over key actions raised during the session and agree a reasonable timeframe to complete these.
Assign one note taker
Hopefully your team will be brimming with ideas and actions as a result of your meeting. To keep everyone on the same page, assign one note taker to keep minutes and circulate notes after the meeting has ended. This will help to keep everyone else focused on generating ideas and contributing to the conversation, and ensure that the whole team will work from the same set of actions
*The Independent (September 2018)
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