Episode from the podcastThe Boss Hat with Barbara Nixon

Episode 8 -The Boss Hat

Released Monday, 18th January 2016
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Hi everyone – thanks for listening today. Hope you’re having a fantastic day. We’re now into episode 8 of our launch so thanks so much for tuning in.

Today we’re going to have a chat about something which I know affects most of us and that’s meetings. Meetings can be a massive time suck can’t they? And if you’re not careful you can end up in meeting hell where you’re just going from one meeting to the other without a break – or even time to do any of the actions that you were supposed to do as a result of the meeting.

Ever been in that position? Where you look at your diary and think I’ve a meeting tomorrow and you bring up the minutes and scroll through to see if your names next to any of the actions so you can quickly get them done so you’re not attending empty handed?

If so, today’s episode is just for you. We are going to be talking all things meetings and I’m going to be sharing some key ways that you can make your meetings more productive.

Just to give you a bit of a helping hand I’ve created a simple infographic to remind you of my tips. To claim this download go to barbaranixon.co.uk/download008

Ok – before we get stuck in to the nitty gritty I just want to mention that meetings aren’t always a bad thing. Yes they can suck our time, and yes if not managed correctly can be a real pain, but if they are managed correctly are a great way of getting all relevant stakeholders in a room to move a project forward – which, and I say it again, if managed correctly  - can be really powerful and productive!

But unfortunately that’s not always the case, in fact for most people it’s most definitely not the case. A lot of people really do suffer from meeting hell.

So – here are my top meeting tips

  1. Ask yourself what’s the point

With every meeting that I attend – I do this and it works a treat. Just by asking yourself the simple question  - what’s the point you can decide whether it’s a meeting that requires your time. If there’s no point – or you can’t see what it is, you can go back to the chair and ask them what the purpose is? There are times when meetings happen for the sake of them – and if that’s the case it doesn’t have to be taking up your time. Find out what the purpose is and decide if you need to attend. It may be that there does need to be a representative from your team or company – but does it have to be you? It might not. In which case is there someone else who can go in your absence. Yes you might need to spend a bit of time bringing them up to speed but in the long run it’ll free you up, and it’ll also be a great development opportunity for them.

Along the same lines of asking yourself ‘what’s the point’ you can also have a think about what contribution you’re expected to give. If you’re just there as a representative from your department or company, is that enough? And as I mentioned before does that representative have to be you or can it be someone else?

  1. Make sure there’s an agenda

This tip certainly follows on from tip number 1. Make sure you see an agenda before hand so you’re aware of what’s going to be covered, what you need to prepare in advance, and how long the meeting is going to take. If there’s no agenda – ask the chair for one, and during the meeting if you think the meeting has gone off piste or the chair isn’t chairing the meeting effectively you can use the agenda to get the group back on track.

  1. Think about how you’re booking your meetings

Having meetings back to back isn’t much fun at all. Yes you might prefer to get them all over and done with in the same day, but by the final meeting you’ll be exhausted, probably hungry and not really much use to anyone. So think about having a short break in between each meeting so you can gather your thoughts and just have a bit of a rest, even if it’s to grab a bite to eat.

Now I do know some people who prefer to have all of their meetings over and done with in one day or at one part of the week, so it might be that Monday and Tuesday are your meeting days and then you know that the rest of the week is left free from meetings. If that’s so, and that really works for you, then great carry on. But do give yourself a little bit of a break in between each meeting if for nothing else then to give yourself a comfort break and have something to eat.

  1. Can you use the phone instead?

Yes it’s nice to see someone face to face, but if you’ve got a busy day is it more effective to just pick up the phone and have a discussion rather than arrange a meeting then do that instead. It’s much quicker and more effective, and means that you don’t have to go anywhere and worry about parking and all that stuff. You can also have the meeting via skype or even jump on a conference call. This is getting more and more common especially as we’re speaking to people from all corners of the globe – so make the most of the technology that’s available to you.

  1. If possible do all the reading before hand.

Theres’s nothing worse than turning up at a meeting only to be handed loads of stuff that you’ve never seen before that someone is going to go through or you’re now expected to read. Instead speak to the chair and ask for any documents to be sent to you so you can prepare properly and then the meeting is kept down to time.

  1. Do you have to be sat down?

Having a meeting stood up is a fantastic way of keeping the energy levels up, and also it works wonders to keeping the meeting running to time. It might not be a big favourite among everyone attending the meeting, but give it a go. Especially for those shorter meetings as it’s a good way of keeping it snappy and running to time.

  1. Have a clamp down on devices

There’s nothing worse than having a discussion and then feeling the table vibrate because someones mobile is buzzing. Not only is it distracting for everyone else, it’s also distracting for the person as they’re now thinking about the text or message they’ve got rather than what’s going on – so get everyone to keep their phone’s in their bags and stashed out of sight.

  1. Always keep track of any actions you need to do as you go along, rather than wait for the minutes to hit your inbox.

 It may take a while to get the minutes and you may be able to rattle off your actions quite quickly if you’ve got them to hand.

So – there are my meeting tips I’d love to hear yours – so come on over to barbaranixon.co.uk and leave a comment and if you’d like the meeting help infographic then come on over to barbaranixon.co.uk/download008 where you can get it for free.

Speak to you next time.