Have you ever fallen asleep during a work meeting?
Well, it’s not necessarily your fault. On average, people attend roughly 62 work meetings every month, and half of those meetings do nothing but waste time. That means you spend 31 hours every month wasting time in useless meetings.
A lot of people don’t actually know how to run a productive meeting. Gathering random employees together for 30 to 45 minutes isn’t going to make a big difference for your business.
And this happens to meetings that are planned and scheduled in advance.
So what happens if you have to hold a last minute meeting?
Take a look at these tips that will help you run productive meetings, even if you aren’t 100% prepared for them.
1. Have a Good Reason
Make sure everyone at the meeting knows why they’re there and what they’re supposed to be doing.
In the best cases, this will involve sending out a meeting objective with any relevant resources pertaining to the meeting. You may also want to type up a meeting agenda that explains what topics you’ll tackle during the meeting.
If you have at least one of these two things, everyone who enters the meeting will know exactly why they’re there and what they’re going to discuss. It will keep the conversation on topic, and you’ll save time trying to explain why you’re all there at the beginning of the meeting.
If you don’t have time for that before a last minute meeting, at least write the objective on the whiteboard or explain the agenda before you get started.
2. Only Include People You Need
Don’t include people in a meeting just because they’re employees too. Really take some time to think about who is needed in the meeting and who would just take up space.
This will keep your meeting small and personal and will allow you to stay on track.
If a meeting has nothing to do with certain employees, they will have nothing to offer. It will be a waste of time for them and for you. Remember, time is money, and they might spend that time better elsewhere.
3. Start on Time and End on Time
And keep the meetings short. There can be no exceptions to this rule.
People will fill any amount of time you give them, but they’ll start to lose focus after 30 or 45 minutes. If you can, make the meetings even shorter than that.
Put someone in charge of tracking the time. When the meeting time is almost up, have the person give you a signal or have them speak up and let everyone know much much time is left.
A short meeting will hold everyone’s attention, and you’ll make as much progress in a 25-minute meeting as you will in a 35-minute meeting. So long as your meeting is structured, you’ll get a lot done no matter how short it is.
You should also give yourself at least 10 minutes of buffer time at the end of each meeting. But this time should not give your meetings permission to drag on longer than they should.
Rather, this will give you time to prepare for the next meeting and leave space for any last minute meetings that need to be squeezed in somewhere.
4. No Electronics Allowed
When you let employees bring computers and phones into a meeting, you’re suddenly competing for their attention. Even if they are using their laptop to take notes, they’ll have a harder time remembering everything that was talked about in the meeting.
Make a no electronics rule and stick to it. The only reason anyone should be looking at their phone is if they are in charge of tracking time. Even then, if you have any other kind of clock, use it.
5. If You’re Late, You’re Out
This might sound harsh, but remember, the meeting has to start on time. You can’t wait around for late people to show up.
So if someone can’t get there on time, make it clear that they won’t be allowed into the meeting. Having someone walk in late and take a few minutes to get settled can be very distracting. Catching them up on what they missed will also take the meeting off course.
Make sure everyone understands that they are responsible for getting to the meeting on time and remind them the meeting starts exactly when the agenda says it does.
6. Have a Plan When You Finish
By the end of the meeting, everyone should know the next steps and what they are responsible for doing themselves.
If people leave the meeting without a clear action plan and set deadlines, the meeting hasn’t done what it was supposed to do.
Have someone take notes throughout the meeting, and after the meeting, turn those notes into action items. Send them to everyone who attended the meeting and put someone in charge of keeping track of who does what by when.
This will help everyone understand the end of a meeting results in action, not in returning to whatever work they were doing before the meeting started.
7. Make Everyone Contribute
Sometimes meetings end up being a conversation between two or three people with a lot of other people watching them. There will always be people more vocal than others, but the reason for the meeting is to share ideas, so anyone in the meeting needs to add something.
As you’re leading the conversation, encourage everyone to share their ideas. This may mean asking people directly, “What are your thoughts on A, B, or C?” If a person has nothing to contribute, they shouldn’t be at the meeting.
A Last Minute Meeting Can Still be Productive
Just because a last minute meeting hasn’t been on the calendar doesn’t mean it has to be any less productive than any other meeting. Keep it controlled, on time, and on track, and your meeting will end with action and results.
Want to learn how you can get more done with less stress? Take a look at this article!