Feel like your meetings are ineffective… and at worst, useless?
Unfortunately, most meetings don’t work. And it all comes down to a few meeting mistakes.
Want to know what they are?
Read on to learn the 5 biggest meeting mistakes that ruin effective business meetings… so that you can finally start running better meetings.
1. You don’t have a clear structure
What’s the first mistake you might be making?
You don’t have a clear meeting structure in place.
What does this mean?
When your meeting starts, you and your team are there to discuss a topic… But it’s still unclear how this topic should be discussed.
And you know what happens in these situations…
It’s pretty easy to start talking in circles and focusing on the wrong things.
People tend to get bogged down in details.
So, in the end, they spend the least amount of time on the important things.
It’s pretty easy to see why unstructured meetings are so ineffective.
But what can you do about them?
Great question. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix.
Why an effective meeting agenda makes all the difference
Create and send out agendas before the meeting.
Here, you describe, specify, and break down the topic.
The more specific you are, the better.
With your agenda, you’ve already thought through your topic. You know what you want to focus on before you enter the meeting room.
You can be completely sure that your meeting focuses on the most important things.
This one thing will instantly make your meetings so much more effective.
Why you might want to schedule your meetings at a different time…
2. You schedule your meetings at the wrong time
It’s easy to pick whatever time that’s available when scheduling a meeting.
But here’s the thing…
You don’t want to schedule your meetings at a completely random time.
Why is that?
People are productive at different times of the day.
Your meeting time should be optimized to take this into account.
When is the best time to schedule a meeting?
Most people experience a HUGE slump in their productivity in the afternoon, so around 3 PM.
It goes without saying that people will be too tired to care if you schedule your meeting around this time.
Instead, here’s what to do:
Survey your co-workers to see what time they’re most focused and when they’re most creative.
The focused time is the time when they shouldn’t be disturbed because they’re “in the flow”
The creative time is when they’re more open to brainstorming. And this energy level is much better suited for meetings.
How to figure out the right time for you
So how do you figure out the best time for your meeting?
After all, it can be hard to make an objective self-assessment.
Here’s what it comes down to:
There are three types of people.
Morning larks, night owls, and everyone else.
Morning larks are most productive early in the morning. They’re more creative in the evening.
Night owls have their creative time in the morning. Their focused time is in the evening.
And everyone else is somewhere in between.
When you know a bit more about your co-workers’ energy levels, it’s easier to make a decision on when to schedule meetings.
Of course, you might not find a perfect time for everyone.
After all, some might be night owls and some might be morning larks…
But the idea is that you schedule your meeting when most people are in that creative mood.
Meeting-free days can help
And to optimize productivity at the workplace, don’t forget to hold meeting-free days.
These are days when no one can schedule meetings.
Why are they so important?
Because this way, people know with certainty that they’ll have at least a full day every week when they won’t get interrupted.
OK, that’s it- let’s move on to tip #3.
3. You don’t have a leader
The thing is:
Every social gathering or community needs a leader.
Otherwise, it’s close to impossible to get everyone to agree on anything.
The same goes for meetings.
Without a leader, some people will hijack the meeting.
Overconfident people will take up everyone’s time… When, in fact, every meeting participant is there for a reason.
On the other hand, some people won’t say anything.
This makes the meeting less effective than it could be because these people could (and probably do!) have tons of unique insights and experiences to share.
Either way, the meeting won’t lead to anything too valuable.
That’s why it’s a major mistake not to appoint a leader to your meeting. This could be yourself or a meeting manager.
What does a meeting leader do?
A meeting leader isn’t a manager.
It’s not someone who gives directions or takes over the stage.
Nope. This person is more of a meeting coach.
Someone who nudges people to speak up and participate.
Who makes sure the meeting doesn’t get derailed.
And who’s there to remind people of the meeting goals.
Just note one thing…
A meeting leader doesn’t have to be the one person who’s responsible for everything.
No- meeting tasks can be delegated to others.
So, tasks like keeping track of minutes, preparing material for the meeting and taking ownership of specific agenda items.
That said, there needs to be ONE person who has a complete overview of the meeting.
And that’s the meeting leader.
Alright, now that you know why you need a meeting leader, let’s move on to mistake #4.
4. You’re too consensual
Shouldn’t meetings be all about agreeing on things?
Sure, you want to come to a conclusion.
But think about it this way:
Can there really be any innovation going on if you don’t see things from different perspectives?
If you notice that all people say during meetings is “Yes”… Then, you know you have a problem.
In fact, conflict is good. So, people saying what they think even if others don’t agree.
That’s the stuff that makes people think in different ways…
And in the end, your meeting will lead to a much more thought-through conclusion than if everyone acts as “yes men”.
How to make your meetings more creative
The fact that conflict is good for meetings doesn’t mean that you should create problems.
Recognize that people might need help getting out from their shells.
We’re social creatures, so it’s tough to be the “difficult” person who objects.
And how do you do this?
Create the right meeting atmosphere. You know, the kind of atmosphere that makes people feel at ease.
5. You don’t make the most of your meetings
So, you’ve held your meeting.
You’ve followed the tips here, so your meeting was a success.
To make sure your run better meetings, you NEED to do this one thing.
It’s a non-negotiable:
Following up on meeting decisions.
You see, if you don’t follow up on decisions, there’s no guarantee anyone will act on them.
And your team won’t move forward with your goal.
But wait a sec…
Isn’t that micromanaging?
And shouldn’t people just do what they promised to do?
Here’s the thing:
No, it’s not micromanaging. To get things done, you need to be a bit persistent.
And while people would do what they say they’ll do in an ideal world, the reality is that they get pulled in all sorts of directions. So, a meeting decision can easily get deprioritized on their to-do list.
Now, you might be asking yourself:
“So, how do I follow up on these decisions?”
Good question. That’s what we’ll look at next.
How to follow up on meeting decisions
OK, so how DO you follow up on decisions?
It all starts during the meeting.
You want to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
That’s where meeting minutes come in…
If you create clear minutes, you avoid any miscommunication.
After the meeting, send these minutes to all participants. Ask them to read them through and get back to you with feedback, objections, and questions.
And during your meeting, you assign ownership of specific tasks to participants.
Include a deadline. If the task is bigger, come up with milestones or an action plan. Also, let them know you’ll follow up.
This means people will commit to getting a task done.
Yes, you still need to check-in with them… But this way, there’s more accountability involved.
Continue to send them out until the task owner has completed the task.
It’s that simple!
What do you want your meetings to look like?
So that’s it- these 5 mistakes might be ruining your meetings.
They are productivity-killers… But, they’re 100% fixable.
Want to start running better meetings?
Let me know:
What’s the one shift you’ll make to ensure your meetings are successful?
Share in the comments below.