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Want Efficient Meetings? Add Two More Items to the Agenda.

Despite the constant connectivity in the workplace today, we still rely on meetings to inspire, regroup, present data, brainstorm ideas and hopefully reach consensus.

But because by definition meetings require the presence of two or more people, when not properly planned or moderated, they can often end up becoming more of a waste of time than an efficient use of it. So in a fast-paced era when time is money and organizations cannot afford to waste one nor the other, how do we make meetings more efficient?

Researchers have been studying just that, and what they’ve identified as two of the top factors for efficient meetings may surprise you:

1. Make Time For Chit Chat

At the beginning of a meeting people chat about what they did over the weekend or about the latest Netflix sensation. It’s human nature. We just can’t help it!

Therefore, two things tend to happen.

Either the chit chat ends up bleeding into the rest of the time, derailing the conversation and impacting the effectiveness of the whole meeting, or the moderator may cut it off right away, creating a similar disruptive result. People whose conversations get abruptly interrupted feel confronted and their feelings may even get hurt, setting a bad tone for the rest of the meeting. Some people retreat, become distant and no longer engage in further interaction, pretty much the opposite of what a meeting should be.

The solution? Add five minutes at the top of the agenda for socializing and catching up. Moving on to the next items will become a planned transition rather than an abrupt admonition.

Researchers also found that getting to know your fellow meeting goers has a huge upside. It’s a misconception that an efficient meeting has to be “all business and no play” when in fact, good decisions require first and foremost reciprocal trust. So give people the opportunity to share something personal about each other and it will build the foundation for a successful meeting.

2. Add The Plus/Delta Factor

Efficient-Meatings-in-post-B2 How to Hold More Efficient Meetings

Just like the first five minutes present an opportunity to build trust, the last five can be equally valuable in making meetings more efficient. Spend them on what’s referred to as the Plus/Delta factor.

The Plus is to celebrate what went well during the meeting. That makes people feel good about how hard they worked to prepare for the meeting and what came out of it. It fuels their enthusiasm for the next steps.

The Delta is for improvement, and to discuss what can be done to make the next meeting better. Immediate feedback changes people’s behavior in a way that resentments and behind-the-back criticism cannot. When asked, people will have valuable feedback to offer that can be addressed right away and implemented the very next time.

Add these two items to the beginning and the end of your next meeting agenda and each one of your meetings will be better than the last. After all, there’s no email or instant messaging that can connect us at a deep human level – and bring us closer together with a common sense of purpose – the same way a face-to-face meeting does.

And that is an incredibly efficient use of everyone’s time.

Reference source: Fast Company “Two Items That Aren’t On Your Meeting Agenda, But Should Be.”