Meetings are a regular part of corporate culture, whether they take the form of a weekly team jour fixe or a regularly scheduled full company assembly. These meetings can play a vital role in a company’s success – after all, a company’s efficient operation often depends on the coordinated contribution of different departments, which rely on these opportunities to exchange information and organize their efforts.
However, meetings aren’t always conducted in a way that makes sense: too often, time-intense meetings are held when a brief discussion by the coffee machine would suffice. When a meeting is necessary, it’s essential to ask who really needs to be there –many employees attend meetings simply out of habit, even when they have little to contribute on a specific topic. And when a regular meeting has been held for a long time, it might be useful to periodically re-assess its necessity – does it still need to be held with the same frequency, and with the same parties in attendance? Regularly asking whether a meeting is still essential can improve time management and productivity.
Preparing for meetings correctly
When a meeting occurs, certain rules should always be observed. For example, topics should only be discussed that really concern all participants. It’s common, of course, to try to tack on other subjects when everyone is already gathered together in one place – but when other coworkers have nothing to do with the project being discussed, it’s a waste of their work time. Thus it’s worthwhile to carefully think over who should actually participate in each meeting.
Further, a time frame should be set for a meeting from the beginning. Many companies think meetings have to last an hour, but that’s often too long – results can frequently be achieved more quickly with a shorter, more focused session. And when time limitations are tightly coordinated and communicated to participants, the chances are better that all participants will show up on time and that unnecessary small talk at the beginning will be cut to a minimum.
Preparation is absolutely necessary in a few other areas as well. The moderator, or whoever convened the meeting, should set an agenda for larger meetings, ideally sending this a few days beforehand to all participants. They should prepare all the technical requirements as well, and have a clear view of which goals they hope to achieve before the meeting begins.
It’s important that these meetings have clear goals that are shared with participants beforehand and kept in mind once they’ve begun, and it’s the job of the leader to steer the conversation back to these goals when it begins to veer off course.
In the best cases, all participants keep a meeting’s goals in mind, and contribute accordingly. Notes on a flip chart can help keep participants focused, and some sort of visualization of the points being discussed can help keep an overview of the entire conversation in mind; it can also make it easier to summarize the results at the end of a meeting and distribute the resulting tasks in a sensible manner among the team. It’s also important to be aware of the time frame set out for a meeting – you can often make a meeting more efficient by considering how long each point will take to cover beforehand. Should the conversation nevertheless digress, it’s up to the moderator to decide if it makes sense to extend the time frame.
Using Beamium for meetings
Beamium is the perfect accompaniment to meetings and corresponding follow-ups. It can substantially increase efficiency and improve the quality of meetings in general. When a large company has offices in several cities, meetings can quickly become complicated – especially when a PowerPoint presentation is involved. The web-based presentation tool Beamium enables all participants to stay on the same level, following along live and location-independent on whatever devices they happen to be using. That eliminates the need for a lot of explanation and commentary, which can otherwise use up a lot of time. And since the Beamium presentation remains on the devices used to access it, participants can pull it up later to follow up on the meeting or re-read information relevant to corresponding tasks – and thus be completely prepared for the next discussion.