So, the meeting is running twice the scheduled time and now you're late for the next one. By now, some people are starting to look for a polite way to execuse themselves from the call. Why does this happen, and what can be done about it? It comes down to preparation, planning, and the willingness of the team to stick to the agenda.
Here are a few quick tips for keeping meetings on track.
1. Keep the discussion relevant
Skipping any conversations that aren’t vital or part of the main discussion will help the meeting go quicker, since off-topic chats will just stretch the meeting time. Not only that, but staying on track with discussion will reduce context switching and help everyone focus at the task at hand.
2. Prepare and think about what you might say at the meeting before it happens
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a notecard or a powerpoint if the meeting is routine. Mentally outlining exactly you’ll say before the meeting starts will make things easier for yourself and for everyone around you.
Planning beforehand for discussions will also help your in-meeting confidence.
3. Don't give up on the meeting after you've joined it, stay engaged and listen
Once the meeting begins it is time to listen and really hear out your colleagues. If you are able to summarize each individual person’s main point and/or each topic that was discussed, it will not only help within the meeting, it will also help to understand your company better and everyone’s roles. People won’t have to repeat themselves as often when everyone is actively engaged.
4. Stick to the agenda
This is a big one. If the agenda isn’t being followed, the meeting is more likely to get off-track. Consequently, the meeting might take longer than you intended it to if people are not sticking to the schedule.
5. Working on improving in-person communication outside of meetings
Of course, meetings are often indended to be inclusive and involve everyone. When a topic is only relevant to a small number of people, talking about it outside of the meeting can be more productive for those involved. Having smaller, personal meetings can also make less frequent large meetings go by more quickly. Also meetings aren't the right opportunity to be social or bring up topics that only involve a subset of the attendees.
6. Explore new tools for team communication
Live discussion doesn’t always have to be either person-to-person or be restrained to the confines of the designated meeting room. Communicating to your coworkers online more frequently and with easier apps can take the burden off of larger sync-up meetings. Don't just stick to live meetings and email.
Next time you have a meeting be prepared to keep the meeting on-topic, even if you didn't schedule the meeting yourself. Also while many meetings are important, they are just one of many tools for team buy-in and communication. Apps like Team.biz, can reduce the frequency of lower-value meetings. If you're interested in seeing how Team.biz can help your team, sign up for the beta using the form below.