Five tips for leading efficient meetings

San Francisco : CA : USA | May 13, 2013 at 9:40 PM PDT
BY Joseph Thomas

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The boardroom as we know it is changing. What does the boardroom of tomorrow look like?

Meetings are an integral – perhaps defining – component of Corporate America. With over 25 million meetings taking place in any given workday, they also impede productivity, with the average employee spending 2 hours 39 minutes in meetings each week. With most businesses strapped for resources, running effective meetings is critical in order to maximize the ROI on your current workforce.

Did you know 47 percent of employees cited meetings as the primary time waster in the office? Use these tips to run effective meetings that boost productivity:

Tip #1: Start with a Purpose and End with a Plan

Before sending a meeting invite, establish a clear, targeted purpose for the discussion. Disseminate an agenda to employees one day prior to the meeting, outlining key talking points and establishing your goals and objectives for the session. This will help keep meetings focused and prevents others from going on tangents. At the end of the meeting, ensure all employees leave with an action plan.

Tip #2: Engage Employees and Encourage Targeted Conversation

You have a limited timespan to grab your employees’ attention – 11 minutes to be exact. Meetings should be bidirectional and encourage roundtable discussion when appropriate. It’s your duty to keep conversations aligned with the agenda. To encourage engagement, consider creating a “no smartphone policy” to reduce distractions.

Tip #3: Stand Up

If meetings are dominating your Outlook calendar, consider implementing standup meetings. Identical to “traditional” meetings, employees stand up rather than slouching in their chairs. As a result, they are more focused and tighten their responses – especially useful for employees who inadvertently give in-office filibusters.

Tip #4: Demonstrate Ownership

Beyond scheduling the meeting in Outlook, take ownership of your meeting in order to achieve the results you need. Throughout the meeting, assign action items to employees and follow up with them between meetings to hold them accountable. Remove any roadblocks that are preventing employees from moving forward.

Tip #5: Take a Picture

If your meetings are anything like ours, the whiteboard is covered with ideas, charts, action items and wireframes. If the next meeting is grouping outside the room, save time by taking a picture of the whiteboard with your smartphone.

The Meeting of Tomorrow

The meetings of tomorrow look vastly different from today. Technology is changing the way businesses collaborate both internally and with their customers. Smartboards, writable paint and videoconferencing is just the beginning. With the advent of electronic workspaces, will future generations grasp the concept of “meeting minutes"?

This article is part of a series on innovation in business. Check to read about more game-changing ideas. This series is sponsored by IdeaPaint.

Joseph Thomas is based in Redwood City, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.