Don’t Waste Your Time On Unproductive Meetings

Time is so precious when you’re an entrepreneur and business owner. The day can slip right by and before you know it your to do list has no check marks on it. The frustration and feeling of overwhelm settle in real fast! One of the biggest problems I see with business owners is they do not know how to effectively run a meeting or even worse, get value out of the meeting itself. I’ve put together some tips that I think you’ll find useful in helping you with meeting time management.

Here are your tips:

  1. Don’t take a meeting just to be nice. I know I know, we all want to be liked and hear everyone out. Know that it’s ok to say NO. If you’re already behind on things and someone wants to meet with you on something not relevant to the immediate moment it’s ok to not take the meeting. Even more importantly, if you know you’re not interested in what someone has to offer, move on. It’s always good to hear options and opinions of others but be mindful of where your time is actually going.
  2. Set an Agenda. This is so simple and I do it all the time. This doesn’t have to be some major power point presentation. Jot down some bullet points that you want to be sure you accomplish. We’ve all gone to a meeting and someone over takes the meeting with what they want to accomplish and you forget what you wanted to say or ask. We’ve all been there and done it. Write down the topics that you want to get answers for or discuss. If you know that the person you’re meeting with needs some guidance, by all means, share your agenda with them. You would be surprised at how they come more prepared. Nothing like asking a bunch of questions and they say, “I’ll look into it and get back to you”. What’s the point of the meeting if you’re not getting answers. Share the agenda and have them begin formulating answers or what your needs are before the meeting.
  3. Photo by Climate KIC

    Are the somebodies in the room? You will want to make sure that the right people are in the room when you have your meeting. The people that are important to the subject and can add value to it. Also, look around in your meetings and find out who is in meetings that maybe shouldn’t be. Maybe their time could be used elsewhere within your organization. I like to have a meeting sometimes with one or two people before I bring all parties involved. Knowing that the meeting can get derailed or off track with so many bodies in the room.

  4. Reel ‘em in. If you have someone that is getting off topic (we all know who that is) it’s ok to say, “Let’s shelve that topic for next week” or “Let’s talk about that another time, we really have a lot already on the agenda today”. People may feel butt hurt, but you’re there to accomplish something, do it.
  5. DON’T BE LATE. Start the meeting on the agreed upon time. A few minutes of small talk is ok, but keep it brief. Also, n my corporate days I was known to have an 8-minute rule. After 8 minutes I leave or hang up (if it’s a conference call). It actually became a joke with some clients and they would say “I just made it, it wasn’t 8 minutes yet was it?” But they knew. Your time is valuable! This sets a culture that’s going to make all your meetings much more successful.
  6. Make them long enough to accomplish what you came to do. Nothing like sitting in a meeting for hours only to not accomplish much. I always say if a meeting is scheduled for an hour I shoot for 40 minutes. The 20 minutes is the buffer. Be aware that some people can’t be productive after a 2-hour span. I try to keep my one on ones under 2 hours, anything longer you start losing people.
  7. Know who’s on first. When the meeting is done review all the agenda items and make sure you have a clear outline of who is handling what or what next steps need to be taken. I always love following the meeting up with an outline of this to the parties involved. I use to have one person dedicated to being a note taker at each meeting (this would alter to different people each meeting) and they would be responsible for the Post Mortem notes to everyone. It’s very effective and allows for simple and easy follow up by everyone involved.

I went back and read my tips above and I sound like a complete hard ass, but I am. I want to make sure that time is being used appropriately and that something is getting done. You’re here to run a business and nothing like wasting your valuable time. Hope these help. Tell me what you do to make your meetings run without a hitch?