Quick Tips! 6 Tips for Running Better Meetings

Videos January 08, 2020

Meetings, meetings, meetings. People generally appreciate them until they run long and are no longer productive. So, what can you do to keep people engaged and make the most use of everyone’s time? In this Quick Tips! video, Cheryl Broom of Interact shares 6 tricks for improving your meetings (and getting them to a “level 10” rating).

Hi, I’m Cheryl Broom with Interact Communications, and I’m in beautiful Park City, Utah for the NCMPR District Six annual convention. And I’ve had a great time visiting with some clients, and with some friends, and learning about all things community college on the West Coast. And while I was here, I got to sit through some meetings that were run really well, and it made me think back to those days on my college campus where I was literally in meetings all day for eight hours straight. So raise your hands if you’ve ever sat through a really terrible meeting. How about hundreds of really terrible meetings? I know I have. So today I wanted to share with you six tips to run your meetings better, so that they’re more efficient and you get more out of them, and the attendees get more out of them as well. So six quick tips.

First of all, always prepare an agenda. I know if you’re a meeting pro, you might want to skip over this because you know what you want to accomplish. But sometimes, especially if meetings get to be out of hand, having an agenda keeps you focused and on track, so make sure that you have a written agenda.

Secondly, send a reminder to the people coming to your meeting, with the agenda attached, at least one day before the meeting so that they, a) don’t miss the meeting, but b) they know what to expect when they get there.

Number three, and this is my mantra at Interact Communications, start on time and finish early. Everyone loves it when you finish the meeting early and they hate it if you start late, so really try your best. If you’re going to start a meeting at two o’clock, start it at two o’clock. If it’s going to end at three, get out of there at 2:55. Cut some people some slack. Now, of course, you can’t always do that. I know how crazy some of these meetings get, but if you can, let ‘em out a couple of minutes early.

Number four, we all have those people in meetings who want to debate issues or get off topic or bring up something that might be worthwhile to discuss, but it’s not on the agenda, so you’d rather table it to next time. So one way to corral these discussions, and to keep your group on task and focused, is to have what I call an issues list. Other people call it a parking lot. And you can write on a whiteboard or a sticky note or just take it by hand. But when an issue like that comes up, that’s not really relevant, what you would say is, “That’s great. I’m going to put it on the issues list. And if we have time at the end of the meeting, we’re going to circle back and focus on that. But for now, let’s stick to the agenda because these are really important items that we need to get through.” So issues lists and parking lots will save you. They recognize that people have things to say without silencing them, but they help keep you on track.

Number five, don’t take your own minutes. It’s impossible to focus on a conversation and to steer the meeting in a good direction if you’re the one taking the minutes. Either the meeting’s going to suffer or the minutes are going to suffer. So give that duty to somebody else.

And number six, this is something that I do at Interact and I really enjoy it. At the end of the meeting, give yourself a couple minutes to go around the room and ask everyone to rate the meeting, from one to 10, what’s the rating? And if the meeting’s ranked a four or five, ask them why. That way you can improve for next time. You’ll be surprised, though. Sometimes your meetings get tens, and that’s really fulfilling. So those are my quick six tips for you to run better meetings. I hope you found something in there that’s useful. I am off to happy hour. Talk to you next time. Bye.