pexels-photo-260887Meetings can make it easier to break down any barriers to communication in your organisation. It’s a great way to get everyone’s input when you need creative ideas to solve difficult problems. Meetings are helpful as they make it easier to get everyone in attendance to focus on the same objectives. They are also an opportunity to inspire your best people and get them motivated to overcome any obstacles that lie ahead. Of course, meetings only convey these benefits when they are properly planned and organised.

Poorly planned meetings typically drag on too long and don’t cover anything of substance. Often these meetings can lead to boredom or confusion and can demoralise your team. The following tips can help you plan and organise a better meeting so that it isn’t a waste of everyone’s time.

Cancel Unnecessary Meetings

Before you begin planning your next meeting, you should first consider if you need to have it in the first place. If you don’t need to facilitate relationship-building and you don’t have anything of real importance to discuss with the attendees, then you and your team will probably benefit more if you skip the meeting if it’s only being held out of habit or ritual.

Help Your Attendees Prepare by Releasing Your Agenda in Advance

Help everyone to be able to contribute to your meetings in a meaningful way by preparing a schedule of topics that will be discussed, and, release it in advance.  In addition to the agenda, make sure that you include materials, records, and other information that participants will need to go over before the meeting. This way, everyone will have what they need to discuss the topics and make fully informed decisions. Not only will the agenda help your attendees be better prepared for the meeting, but, it will help everyone to stay focused and on task once the meeting starts.

Send Reminders About the Date, Time and Location for the Meeting

Everyone is busy these days. To ensure that the meeting remains top of mind and increase the chances that everyone will show up, send an email or other notification, to remind participants of the event. At the very least, send out a reminder one week, as well as one day, before the meeting. Don’t forget to send out a “last call” one full hour before the meeting starts, and emphasise the importance of arriving on time in all your reminders.

Consider Rescheduling if Key Attendees Are Late

Getting important stakeholders and other key voices to gather together at the same time is difficult for most organisations. That’s why it’s a good idea to allow participants a few extra minutes to arrive for the meeting. If several of your critical influencers haven’t arrived, and it’s five or so minutes after the meeting should have started, you have a decision to make. Will you go on without them and hope to catch them up if they show later, or, cancel the meeting? If there are topics that don’t need everyone’s input, then you might wish to change the order on your agenda and discuss these items first. If you have critical items to go over that require everyone to be there, then you and your team are probably better off cancelling and rescheduling.

Set the Pace

It’s up to you to set the tone, and pace, for the meeting if you want to use your meeting time wisely. Once everyone has arrived, start with a general welcome. Ask if everyone still has a copy of their agenda. Always come prepared with extra copies, along with the other materials that you sent out, in case anyone has forgotten theirs. While you want to keep an eye on the clock so that you have enough time to cover each planned topic, avoid cutting others off when you ask for their input. Don’t be afraid to call upon attendees by name and ask for their thoughts, especially if the conversation seems to be lagging.

Don’t Forget to Sum Up at the End

As your meeting is drawing to a close, don’t forget to summarise the key points that you and your team have discussed. Make sure that everyone is clear about any items that they may have agreed, or committed to, and always ask if anyone has any final questions or additional comments before you end the meeting. Finally, if you and your team have managed to get through all your items for discussion, don’t be afraid to end a meeting early. This one act alone will go along way to preventing the boredom and frustration that comes from attending a meeting that has simply gone on too long.