Effective Meeting Checklist: 13 Things You MUST Do Before, During or After so You’re Not Wasting Time
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that U.S. businesses lose $37 Billion in unnecessary meetings every year.
Yes, that’s with a “B”.
- A survey by Salary.com shows “too many meetings” is the #1 single biggest waste of time at work.
- Studies show that Managers attend more than 60 meetings per month and an estimated 37% of employee time is spent in meetings.
So should you cancel all meetings?
Is that the answer?
Not according to 92% of meeting attendees who say they value meetings as an opportunity to contribute to the organization.
So what IS the solution?
Considering that the problem isn’t so much having meetings as it is having ineffective meetings, the following checklist will save you time, save you resources and save you money. It’s also likely to keep you from feeling worn out and exhausted from meeting burnout.
Print out this Checklist and use it before, during and after your next meeting. You’ve got everything to gain.
BEFORE THE MEETING:
[ ] Make sure you (or anyone else) really need(s) to physically attend the meeting.
If the meeting can be had via teleconference or web conference, opt for that. It saves not only drive time but also delay time waiting for those who are known to be late.
[ ] Prepare and/or Review the Agenda.
Do this at least 48 hours prior to meetings to ensure that the timeline is efficient but not too tight to allow for discussions. Make any necessary adjustments.
[ ] Prepare data and/or facts that support items on the Agenda.
Don’t waste time trying to locate this information during meeting time. Or worse, don’t put the issue until another meeting because you don’t have the proper information to proceed to conclusion.
[ ] Distribute any information that will require review by other meeting participants.
Do this at least 72 hours prior to meetings to give people enough time. Otherwise, you’ll waste time explaining the information on the spot, effectively doubling the time you’ve spent to prepare it, just to resolve the issue.
DURING THE MEETING:
[ ] Start ON TIME!
This is one of the most critical, yet skimmed over culprits of ineffective meetings. Starting later than the designated time is not only wasteful, it’s disrespectful to the people in the room who have more effective things to do than idly chit chat while waiting for the “real” meeting to begin.
[ ] State the Intentions and Objectives of the meeting at the start.
This one tactic can keep people on task instead of digressing into monologues and discussions that are completely irrelevant to the important issues of the current meeting. During this time, it’s also a good idea to set the “ground rules” such as a “NO TECHNOLOGY Rule” so that people aren’t tempted to divert their attention from the real reason they’re present at the meeting.
[ ] Address most important issues first.
Don’t make the mistake of checking off small things to leave the bulk of your meeting time for the big discussions. It never happens that way! What happens instead is you’ll find that if you’re running short of time, the most important issues aren’t given the time they deserve or they’re completely shelved until the next meeting can happen.
[ ] Publicly ask the Question: “What did we decide today?”
Have someone taking minutes, which includes WHO will do WHAT and BY WHEN. Without this critical step, you’ve just spent 1 to 2 hours sharing ideas and concepts. The only way to turn the MEETing into a DOing is to have follow up actions and accountabilities.
[ ] Set the date and time of the next meeting.
You will avoid wasting so much valuable time by avoiding the usual endless email volleying to find a date and time that works for everyone’s already busy schedule. Rescind the “No Technology Rule” for this portion and have everyone coordinate live and on the spot. Make sure you communicate this information post meeting to anyone who couldn’t attend, stating that the date and time were chosen by the majority – the majority who were present, that is!
[ ] End on time.
Ending on time is vital for several reasons, such as setting the expectation for attendees that their time will not be squandered. It also sets the tone that you must stay on task and on topic during the meeting otherwise all of the objectives will not be met. Finally, it lays the groundwork so that you can democratically interrupt anyone who is a “meeting hog” by politely reminding them there are only x minutes to the meeting and you must move on in order to get to all the issues.
AFTER THE MEETING:
[ ] Send a Recap Report.
In the Recap Report, include the meeting minutes, which includes what you “decided” at the meeting. Most importantly, include a chart that illustrates WHO committed to do WHAT and BY WHEN so that everyone is on notice that people will be looking for those action items to be completed.
[ ] Delegate someone to track action items and accountabilities.
Choose someone who has access to all meeting members to keep track of the “WHO-WHAT-BY WHEN” list. Make sure that you know when an action item is overdue and have a plan to nudge the person who is accountable to get back on track asap. Publicly acknowledge those who have completed their tasks on time to encourage the same behavior in everyone.
[ ] Evaluate the Meeting Effectiveness.
Ask yourself (and meeting attendees) 3 things. a) What went well? b) What went poorly? c) What can we commit to doing to improve? A quick email will do or better yet, an anonymous survey so that people feel completely free to be open and honest in their feedback.
By following this very simple checklist, you’ll find you’re able to recuperate tens if not hundreds of hours of your time and your team’s time during the month. You’ll begin to see meetings that produce real, measurable results – consistently. Inevitably, your effectiveness and your teams’ effectiveness will rise dramatically. Just think what that will do to your bottom line profits! Send me a message on Facebook and tell me how it goes when you implement the items on the checklist.