Meetings: they’re known in the business world as a necessary evil. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. With a few adjustments, you can create the ideal conditions for effective and efficient meetings.
One sure way to make a meeting unbearable is to go in without a plan, as the general disorganization will essentially waste everybody’s time. In fact, the first thing that a meeting will need to be successful is an agenda to outline the points the meeting will touch upon.
The agenda also has the added benefit of allowing you to establish if a meeting is even necessary. After all, if the meeting is meant to focus on one or two points that only apply to one or two people, it serves the business much better if the meeting is cancelled--as this allows for the majority of would--be attendees to spend their time more productively than if they were to sit in a meeting with that didn’t really apply to them.
As you establish your reason for meeting, you also establish the point to stay focused on as your meeting takes place. What purpose does your meeting have? What is the end goal? Are you meeting to establish an initiative’s timeframe? Are you resolving an issue? Are you brainstorming your next project? Cementing the meeting’s core purpose will assist in maintaining your focus for the duration of the meeting. Other effective tactics for building focus include discouraging the use of devices as a meeting is in session, and conducting a meeting in which all attendees are on their feet.
Of course, there are ways that you personally can make a meeting more engaging if you ever find yourself at the helm. Whenever it’s appropriate, try sprinkling some humor into your presentation to keep your audience’s attention. However, use this tool sparingly, as it can easily become a detriment to accomplishing anything within your session.
Be cautious of rambling and going off subject. Eliminating extra words and being sure to avoid hesitant sounds like “um,” "uh,” and “well,” will not only help your audience listen to what you're saying, but it will make you seem more confident. Practicing what you plan to say ahead of time will help with this, as well as help you better prepare for the real deal.
Perhaps most importantly, you need to remember to be yourself. Nothing will make a meeting drag on more than an insincere delivery of industry jargon. Speak as though you normally would, and don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself, as this will make you a more engaging and approachable speaker.
What are some of your worst experiences with meetings? Let us know in the comments!