Whether it’s a weekly catch-up session or a daily team huddle, we all have some sort of regular work meeting. But when they become a daily part of your working life, it’s easy to fall into a rut and stop thinking creatively about how to collaborate.
Here are five things to stop doing during your regular work meetings to be more engaged and productive.
1. Sitting in the Back of the Room
You know the drill: You head into the conference room and even though there is a near empty conference table, you grab a seat in the row of chairs lining the wall. If you’re invited to a meeting, you have just as much reason to be on the front lines as anyone else. Next time, challenge yourself to switch up the seating chart a bit and head straight to the main table. You’ll find yourself even more engaged and ready to contribute!
2. Listing Only Your To-Dos
Your meeting may go many different ways, but it often includes reporting on your current project list. When possible, consider shifting focus and contribute either the impact of what’s on your to-do list or what you need from others to complete the project. These discussion points come off as much more collaborative, and also make the best use of your colleagues' time. Instead of saying you have a meeting tomorrow with the marketing team, add a bit more about why this matters and who is contributing. It may become something like: “Tomorrow, Linda and I are meeting to wrap up the final details of the ad campaign. We think we can save the company about $5,000 on this project, and would love to have someone from accounting sit in and contribute.”
3. Thinking Short-Term
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day office business, so we often don’t allow time in our meeting to address long-term issues. It can be tempting to add a separate strategy or long-term planning meetings to our already full calendars. Instead, see if there are smaller objectives in the larger goals that you can break up and tackle during the weekly (or daily) meeting. Setting aside a few minutes for this makes strategic issues more actionable and maintains momentum on long-term projects.
4. Leaving Without Action Items
Ideally, meetings should change how you view your workload for the day or what’s on your objective list for the week. These changes don’t have to be dramatic, but one way you can determine your meeting’s value and productivity is by closing the meeting with action items. This doesn’t mean your to-do list has to grow exponentially. It does mean that you get creative with ideas about new initiatives or people to collaborate with. If you don't find yourself with any action items, it may be an indicator of value (or lack thereof). Consider how to turn what you share into specific actions for you or other members of your team.
5. Long Meetings
Somewhere along the way, someone decided that one hour was the magic amount of time people needed to have a productive meeting. Not so! Some of the most productive meetings are those that happen as “huddles” with folks standing around together a few times a week to catch up on the essentials. If a quick daily huddle seems too bold for your office culture, you still might benefit from shaving a few minutes off of longer weekly meetings. Instead of an hour, propose a time limit of 45 minutes. Setting expectations for even slightly shorter meetings can help create a sense of urgency and focus that makes the whole team more productive.
Done wrong, meetings can be boring, stifling beasts that do little for productivity and morale. Done right, they can be invigorating, challenging and inspiring. Do the right thing; your team will thank you!