Often, inefficient meetings are a product of bad preparation from both the meeting facilitator and attendees. Unfortunately, this affects everyone at the meeting – not just the poorly prepared ones.
Keep in mind that all meetings are different, and therefore demand different levels of preparation. Yet, there are certain things, you should always think through before every meeting.
You know how breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day? The same theory goes for setting a purpose for meeting. Do this first, before any other planning – this first stage is crucial to having a successful meeting. The yogis of the world are right when they say to set a purpose for your practice…
Being mindful before you send a meeting invitation, you have to make it clear to yourself, what you want to achieve with the meeting. The headline might say “sales meeting,” but the purpose is to reflect on the results of the quarter or make a strategy for the upcoming quarter.
The purpose must be written in the meeting invitation. Doing so makes it easier for the meeting attendees to prepare, because they know what they’re in for.
Before you send the invitation, it’s important that you consider who can bring value to your meeting. It isn’t uncommon that the facilitator invites a few extra colleagues “just because”. If this happens, there is a great risk of making those extra attendees feel unimportant, because they’re not actually adding value to the meeting. Even worse, slightly agitated because you’re taking them away from their work.
For audience, it’s important to focus on the type of meeting. Is it a large joint meeting or an internal status review meeting? Who should be invited? What’s important for this audience? This should all be reflected in the agenda.
Do you always book the same room when you host department meetings? Why is that? Switch it up from time to time by selecting new rooms, spaces and surroundings.
If moving to a new space isn’t possible, have attendees sit in a new spot in the room. This decreases the risk of going into “doing-the-usual” mode, which won’t bring many exciting ideas or any interesting sparks to your meeting.
Does the meeting have to be indoors? How about getting some fresh air? If there’s only a few people at your meeting, consider a walk and talk meeting. These kinds of meetings boost your creativity and productivity.
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We humans can concentrate for 20-25 minutes at a time before our minds start wondering.
That’s important to account for, when you prepare for your next meeting.
If you’re not the facilitator, you ought to suggest incorporating rhythm into the meeting. If there aren’t any breaks, you increase the risk of attendees missing information or not remembering information afterwards.
Take a short break every now and then. Stretch your legs, grab a coffee or water, and get some air outside of the meeting room. Make sure not to keep discussing the meeting topic but clear your minds for a minute or two.
Two blocks of 20-25 minutes with a 5 minute-break in between, might prove much more effective than a full 60 minutes in the meeting room.
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