Meetings are a regular occurrence in every workplace. When used effectively, they can be a great tool to discuss ideas and move things forward. However, all too often, meetings are held when they are not needed or when people are under-prepared for the discussion. This is when they can become time wasters.
You may not actually need to be at every meeting you are invited to. One of the most important things you can do to manage meetings, is to determine if you actually need to be at the meeting in the first place. If it's not critical for you to be there, decline the invitation.
There's not a lot you can do about how other people structure their meetings. If the meeting is essential for you to attend and control of that meeting is in the hands of someone else - you just have to accept that it may waste your time.
However, when the meeting is in your hands, you can take steps to ensure that your meetings are purposeful and productive.
- Define the purpose and agenda - make sure that your meeting has a defined purpose (i.e. what you need to achieve) and a list of items/issues to be discussed. Include this with the meeting invite.
- Lead the meeting - keep the discussions on track and keep the meeting moving through the agenda items.
- Take and distribute minutes - delegate a person to take minutes and ensure that they are distributed within 24 hours so that people are aware of any items that need to be actioned.