October 27, 2016 | Trinh Danh
About 50% of workers cited meetings as a big time-waster in office. The objective of meetings is to engage teams to discuss issues, generate ideas and drive results. However, meetings are now often as valuable as only a twitter post that has a lifespan of 24 minutes. People talk and contribute ideas during the meeting but they disappear into thin air the moment it ends with no follow up action on tasks.
So, you have considered all possible options to communicate with your team in a bid to get things done through emails, instant messaging and any other team-collaboration platforms (like Trello or Basecamp) available out there. Ultimately, you viral down to the truth that essentially you need to hold that meeting with your team. Fret not, there is still hope to make your meeting a success with these 6 curated tips:
Have purpose and structure
Nobody likes to attend anything with no purpose, needless to say a meeting with no agenda which takes up much of their time. Have a clear agenda sent out to all attendees in advance prior to the meeting to ensure everyone is aware of the objectives and have sufficient time to prepare or provide feedback and request to add in any special concern or topics for discussion.
Tip: During the meeting, have an Agenda board put up prominently, it helps ensure attendees stay on track and does not stray off topic. The agenda board can be written on a simple flip chart or made up with post-it notes on the wall, unleash your creativity on this!
It is hard for anyone to concentrate if a meeting consist of someone “lecturing” at length throughout the meeting. Having visual aid will effectively help demonstrate the points and capture attendees' attention.
Tip: When a presentation like PowerPoint is required, encourage your team to use more pictures than words. One way suggested by Kevin Meany, Founder of BFG Communications, is to follow the rule of Twitter -- no more than 140 characters -- when it comes to words on a slide, go straight to the point and ditch the jargon.
Taking minutes is one way to ensure accountability. At the end of the meeting, minutes should indicate the key personnel responsible for each task discussed and what to action on with a deadline. The minutes must be sent out to all attendees after the meeting, even those who were not able to make it for the meeting.
Tip: There are various formats of minutes taking but select one and standardize for consistency. You may consider the Cornell system or even Bill Gates' rumored style of dividing a page into 4 squares using each quadrant for a topic. 3 key points to capture for each topic discussed are what was decided, what was accomplished and the agreed actions for each attendee.
Have a break
Have a break every 30 minutes if your meeting is going to last an hour or more. Toilet breaks or even just taking a short walk outside the meeting venue will allow them to refresh themselves.
Tip: Always prepare snacks for your meetings, nobody hates food!
Close the door and start your meeting on the dot to respect the time of all attendees who have put in the effort to be on time.
Tip: Try adopting the Swiss train approach. Punctuality is a Swiss virtue and in Switzerland where the rail network is the world's most heavily used, the train timetable is planned to the second and runs efficiently. Set very specific time to your meeting, say 9.06am or 3.32pm, as this arouses curiosity and attendees will pay high attention to the start and end times.
Bring it offsite
When holding meetings off-site at a new environment other than the workplace, people tend to be more open, focused and break out of their “office personality”. There are more talks, engagement level is higher and more creative ideas are generated. Off-site meeting venues may also provide access to different or newer technologies to aid your meetings.
Tip: In choosing an offsite meeting venue, here are 4 key points to consider:
1) Format of meeting
The type and structure of your meeting will help you decide on the best layout setting. What is the size and length of the meeting? Will it be a meeting that entails elements of team building and fun or is it focused on strategy and numbers where a more corporate environment is essential? A 5-star meeting space like a Servcorp boardroom, which holds up to 18 people around a pristine granite table, presents both the professional image and environment required for a corporate meeting or training.
2) Site Visit
Ensure to make a trip to visit the offsite venue to have a thorough understanding of what your attendees are walking into, if the technology and equipment capabilities meet your needs, know the constraints of the venue and ascertain details about the flow of the venue and environment. Such details will help you to conceptualize the flow of your meeting and even generate ideas on how to fully utilize the space. A Servcorp meeting space is well-equipped with state-of-the-art technology including super high speed wifi connection, video-conferencing and tele-conferencing facilities, and easy plug-and-play for your presentation. While on a break, attendees can take in the stunning views of the city or marina bay to rejuvenate and refresh themselves for the next session.
3) Location Location matters
The last thing you want is to have attendees caught in jams and arriving late and tired from finding the venue. A prestigious location of a Servcorp office ensures that the meeting venue is in a prime district with great accessibility. An automated email confirmation of the meeting venue with an image of the meeting location building, description, address, google map as well as specific instructions on how to get to the venue by all modes of transport can be sent to all attendees to ensure no one has any reason to be lost!
Find out all the entitlements that comes with the venue and maximize your budget when you spend on an offsite meeting venue. Be diligent and ask questions to discover what could be hidden costs that you may have to incur. Your negotiation skills come into play to help you gain more value out of your meeting. Meeting spaces at Servcorp are flexible and can be booked in blocks of 10 minutes and as short as 10 minutes, paying only for what you use. The immaculate kitchen serves up unlimited gourmet coffee, Twinnings tea and water for attendees and snacks can be separately arranged to complement meetings.
Now, go ahead to do some smart–planning on your next meeting with these tips and you'll be on your way to a highly productive meeting!