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Meeting Time Management

5 Tips to Improve Meeting Time Management

Meeting Time Management

5 Tips to Improve Meeting Time Management

Set a Clear Agenda

A well-defined agenda is the cornerstone for proper time management during meetings. Before the beginning of the meeting, it is important to distribute the agenda that would outline several key points, their outcomes, and the time allocated for discussion. For instance, for a 60-minute meeting, a structure is as follows: 10 minutes will be given for introductions, 30 minutes for the main discussion to flow, and 10 minutes for Q&A. Five last minutes will be spent on discussing and summarizing follow-up steps. Allocate each time for each topic to keep the distraction and off-topic conversation to the minimum.

Set Time Limits

It is possible to set up strict time limits for sticking with the agenda and keep the conversation as concises as possible. An action item can last as long as it is defined in the agenda, with an alarm timekeeper to trigger switch to another of agenda items. For example, during the brainstorming meeting, time of the three minutes will be allocated to each person. Not only it promotes keeping it succinct, but also avoids one-hogging behavior. One minute is to prompt the next steps, and the two others are to actual listing the new ideas up.

Use Technology for Extra Efficiency

There are many tools and apps that are designed to perfect the meeting schedule management. Anything from exact regular reminders by Google calendar to meeting apps can be used. As an example, one can consider using Trello or Asana to track the progress of assigned action items. Calendar tools can send a reminder to participants as the date of meeting is coming closer.

Encourage to Prepare

The preparation will allow making the meeting much more efficient. Participants should be prepared to provide a brief overview or a status update on each of the points. They should have prepared questions, as this manipulates the atmosphere of more discursive conversation. Lastly, the time for explanation will shrink, and the whole meeting will take less time.

Limit Number of Participants

There always should be as few meeting participants as possible. Only those who are directly related to a point or points on the agenda should be requested to participate. In such a manner, to cut the time needed for each person a responsible contribution and to reduce the room for side conversation. For instance, if the meeting is to provide feedback on new marketing strategies, only marketing team marketers, sales, product development, and perhaps some of the customers should attend. The briefing will come back to the customer’s feedback and will follow in a clearer manner.

Action Items

As the meeting is winding up, clear items should be listed with a responsible and a dead for each. Later, a small meeting should be conducted to report no progress to avoid following long email threads. Assign tasks during meetings and not through email-follow-up.

Meeting Time Management

Start and Finish on Time

Proper and timely starting and finishing of the meeting are the essential parts of effective meeting management. Firstly, punctuality is based on respect for each employee’s schedule, and such an approach is beneficial for time management . Secondly, the timely finish highlights a disciplined environment within an organization. Therefore, it is vital to ensure timeliness, and the following steps can be useful:

  • Making an example . The leaders should always have a license to be late. Their discipline to the beginning and the finish of each meeting makes an appropriate example for other employees. If the leading figures are timely for the event, workers will have motivation for their punctuality .

  • Reminder . All the employees that are supposed to attend the meeting should be informed and reminded from ten to fifteen minutes before it starts. Such method does not let people forget about the event and allows them to finish all the previous engagements in time.

  • Waiting rule . In case some essential employees are absent the meeting waiting, arrange the limit of time that people need to wait for them. Most meetings usually start in five minutes late despite who is not present.

  • Appropriation of the time . there should also be a specific time slot for each minor or major question that could be raised by the participants. For example, if one question is supposed to be discussed for twenty minutes, it cannot take even twenty-one minutes. While speaking about the impact of the discussed issues, the timer should always be on the table.

  • Buffer planning . While planning time, always leave the meeting to finish five-tens minutes later. Such timing can be used by participants to have private and general clarifications or to skip the work overrun.

  • Immediate end . twenty to thirty minutes before the end of the meeting, ask all the participants to summarize the key parts of the discussion. It means that the event is supposed to be finished on time.

Promote Participation

To ensure that the productivity of meetings is maximized, it is essential to make sure that all participants are actively involved. Additional benefits of enhanced engagement are that the decision-making process becomes more streamlined, meaning that not only time but meetings themselves may prove effective. The following strategies may help make the participation of employees practical in nature.

  • Encouraging an open atmosphere. Making an open atmosphere is essential because people should be free to share their ideas, as it may help all participants stay active. Thus, at the beginning of the meeting, everyone should be invited to participate, and they should be told that their responses are appreciated.

  • Rotating roles. Every meeting may require people to participate in completing a specific role, such as timekeeper, note-taker, or facilitator. This may help keep meetings fresh and help all participants to be more interested in the meeting efficiency.

  • Utilizing round-robin participation. When it is possible, participants and their input should be addressed on specific items on the agenda. During round-robin participation, each member should share their inputs and their thoughts on the topics.

  • Using digital tools. There are tools that provide immediate interaction among the participants of the meeting. Using live polling or actual document editing by employees may make meetings more interactive. There are many tools that may be used, such as Slido or Poll Everywhere, that provide instant opportunities to participate.

  • Asking engaging questions. In addition to preparing and going through all the questions related to the preparation of the agenda, it should be possible to prepare more information to be reviewed by the participants. During these hobbyist questions, it should be possible to allow participants to contemplate and to think more critically.

Preparing engaging questions and making sure that participants are asked for their input are two of the most effective strategies to make the participation of all team members practical. In future, it is possible to address the fact that if the participation of employees is valuable from a practical point of view, it helps all team members work more effectively.

Manage Distractions

Keeping distractions minimal is the key to keeping a meeting on time and the participants focused. For those who feel like distractions are taking too much of the time that could be spent on the desired results of the work meeting, here is a list of detailed recommendations on how to keep distractions to a minimum in the workplace:

  • Device-free policy. Ask everyone to turn off devices, those non-essential , at least. If the nature of the meeting requires the device, like a laptop or a tablet, ask participants to use them only for things directly related to the meeting.

  • Defining the place. Using a room that is completely separate from the work environment can keep the noise and the distractions away and create the right atmosphere for the effective meeting. Besides, the used room, or the second meeting room, has to be equipped ahead of time with all the necessary tools such as whiteboards, markers, and audiovisual aids .

  • Setting the rules at the beginning. Saying a few opening words on the importance of the work to a meeting, saying no often helps participants hone in on the decisions that need to be made. Remind people to wait their turn to speak and not to talk over one another at the beginning of the meeting as well as stay on the agenda items.

  • Scheduling the work at the right time. Other ways to avoid are to schedule work early in the day or just after lunch, when people are less likely to be distracted by incoming emails or the task of preparing to go home.

  • Utilizing more visual aids. Even in a meeting where not everyone is expected to have a strong opinion on the topic, using them can focus the attention of the participants on the subject and avoid splitting minds.

  • Parking lot the other issues. Make a list of on-agenda items and for those off-agenda, define the parking lot. They should be addressed later as follow-up or at another meeting .

  • Taking regular breaks during long meetings. For many, this is the time when they will be fighting their urge to furiously check the smartphone for the response to their last email.

Summarize and Follow Up

Effective meeting summaries and follow-ups are not only important for accountability, facilitating action, and keeping momentum but also a means to clarify and specify goals and deadlines: each participant should know exactly what they should do, by when it should be done, and to what purpose . There are several steps and strategies to effectively finalize a meeting and set off a follow-up sequence:

  • Designate time for the summary: the last part of the meeting should be devoted to accumulating the key decisions and actions taken during it . Actually verbalizing the secondary parts helps members reinforce the outcomes and make sure they are all on the same page about what is to be done further.

  • Assign responsibilities: while finalizing a meeting and speaking about decisions, be clear about who will do what . The action item should be formulated as needs to be done, by whom, and by what time. Leaving details unspecified creates blank spots in the expectations from participants.

  • Use follow-up instrument: once the meeting is over, use a follow-up tool to track how the action items are performed . These can be project management software or simple shared documents like Asana, or Google Sheets. Making a habit of logging tasks in a shared manner keeps everyone engaged and accountable for tracking the status of their actions.

  • Send follow-up emails: immediately after the meeting, send an email to all participants as a written record of the main discussion points, findings, decisions, and action assignments. In your message, specify what was decided and who should do what, including both general or private and specific to a person or department tasks.

  • Make decisions on when to set the next meeting: if follow-up sessions are going to be required, decide the exact dates, times, or intervals of the next meeting while you are together. A lack of these arrangements always delays the project due date one meeting later.

  • Ask for feedback on meetings regularly: inquire the participants about the meeting structure and effect, get recent meeting recommendations and experience, and adjust your meeting trajectory in response, if needed.

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