Rather than a dreaded drag on your schedule, meetings are a way to improve communication, gain buy-in from team members, and build skills. The key is starting with intention. Make the most of your shared time together with these three tips.
Share the plan
All participants should have any required reading well in advance of the meeting. Giving lead time increases the likelihood that they will thoughtfully engage the material and arrive prepared to contribute to a rich discussion. If possible, the agenda should also be distributed prior to the meeting so everyone know what to expect, and how much time to allow.
Share the goals
Meetings are notorious for taking up valuable time and leaving attendees feeling drained. However, they don’t have to be that way! Your reputation for well-planned meetings may even generate some excitement.
Before you plan a meeting, determine your purpose and desired outcomes for the gathering. Be specific so participants can easily recognize success during your ending recap. Share your desired outcomes with participants at the beginning to emphasize that your meeting has a clear focus and destination. This provides a compass that helps you stay on track when discussion strays too far from your stated purpose. Be sure to use a parking system for important points that come up but aren’t related to goals for the meeting at hand. Assure participants that these concerns will be addressed later and make a point to follow up in a timely manner.
Get in the zone
Preparation is the most important pre-meeting task for success. Just as important as preparing materials and the meeting space is preparing yourself. Take a few moments to check your appearance from head to toe. Prepare your emotional self, too. Advance preparation of materials and the like helps you feel more confident; a full, slow, deep breath helps you arrive present and centered. Take at least 30-seconds for a one-breath meditation. Drop your shoulders and relax your jaw. You may even want to repeat an affirmation that empowers or encourages you. During the meeting you will function as both facilitator and participant. How you show up will impact how others experience the meeting.
Maybe meetings have unfairly gotten a bad rap. When planned well, they can be an effective use of time and an efficient way to communicate. If your meetings have gotten bogged down, these three pre-meeting tips can help you facilitate a change for the better.