January 21, 2010, 6:29 PM — Everyone dislikes meetings that drag on. So your job is to make it focused, highly driven and to add a sense of purpose. If you do this, then you’ll boost team motivation and morale. Here are 5 tips to help you...
Tip 1: Plan wisely
To make sure you get the most out of your meetings, you need to plan them wisely. Prior to each meeting, write down 3 goals that you want from the meeting. Here are some examples:
√ “I want the team to know we’re on track”
√ “I want any issues or risks to be raised”
√ “I want them to feel valued and motivated”
Then you need to work out how you're going to achieve your goals. The next few tips will help you with this…
Tip 2: Open and close carefully
Like in theatre, people most remember the opening and the closure the most. So open and close your meetings carefully. When you open the meeting, tell them what the purpose of the meeting is, what you want to get out of it and why it’s important. This gets their attention and sets the scene. When you close the meeting, tell them what has been agreed / achieved in the meeting and the next steps going forward.
Tip 3: Control the conversation
You need to be in complete control of the meeting at all times, to ensure that:
√ The meeting follows the agenda
√ You never get stuck on a single issue
√ One person doesn’t dominate it
√ Everyone has their say
Start by standing or sitting in a prominent place in the room. Raise your voice a little to add presence. Jump in frequently when people talk too long. Be polite but strong. Control the meeting as a coach would control a football team - by constantly watching, listening and directing the team. If possible, ask someone else to record the minutes. This gives you the time needed to control the conversation so that the agenda and your 3 goals are met.
Tip 4: Park it and move on
Often in meetings, a single issue can consume the majority of the meeting time. If the issue is not related to your specific meeting goals, then tell the team to “park it and move on”. Record the issue on a whiteboard or paper and address it with the relevant team members separately after the meeting. This keeps your meetings short and focused.
Tip 5: Keep it action orientated
Projects are all about “getting things done”. So make sure that where possible, every discussion results in an action to be completed. Focusing on the actions that are needed, is a great way of reducing the length of meetings.
Jason Westland has been a project manager for the past 16 years managing projects worth up to 2 billion dollars. If you would like to get a free trial of Jason's new online project management software go to projectmanager.com
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