Great Business Ideas: Make Your Meetings More Productive

Great Ideas for your Small Business: Make Your Meetings More Productive

In this high-tech era, it’s a bit surprising to learn that face-to-face meetings are still the most popular form of business communication. In fact, 44 percent of executives surveyed by Office Team, an office staffing service, said they preferred to meet with people in person. E-mail ranked second, with 34 percent; paper memos, 12 percent; and voice mail, 7 percent.

Still, so many meetings drag on and accomplish very little. “In these days of rapid change, time is precious, and you can’t afford to waste it in meetings,” said Dr. Mark Goulston, a Santa Monica psychiatrist who works with both big and small companies to solve all sorts of people problems.

One of Goulston’s most effective tips is to plan a quiz for the end of a meeting. “We ask whether everyone really understands what was discussed,” said Goulston, and also “what are you going to do differently and why.” This system, he says, avoids “collusion” between meeting leaders and participants who sometimes just pretend to be listening or interested—or, worse yet, agree with their bosses just to gain favored-employee status. There are no right or wrong answers to the “quiz.” Sometimes the person won’t suggest any changes but will be asked to justify his or her position to colleagues. Goulston says that “The purpose of the quiz is not to shame or embarrass anyone, but to make sure everyone is on the same page,” he said.

He said his method works especially well for new companies where people are more open to this unconventional meeting structure. But you can certainly try this to revitalize the meetings that put you to sleep.

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Here are some of his other tips to make your meetings more productive:

  • Schedule meetings just before lunch so people will act quickly.
  • Send out an agenda before the meeting.
  • Invite the fewest number of people necessary.
  • Only meet when absolutely necessary.