Thursday, 13 December 2018 15:38

5 Tips for More Productive Meetings

Business meetings aren’t supposed to be fun, but they should be productive. Unfortunately, meetings are often viewed by participants as a waste of time.

Here at Baillie Lumber, we do our best to ensure there’s a good reason behind every meeting that is scheduled and that those who participate come away with a clear idea of what happens next. But we’re also vigilant about making the best use of our time so that meetings continue to be necessary and productive.

Here are five tips that we have found valuable on how to conduct effective meetings that enhance your company’s workflow:redom 2

  1. Every meeting comes with an agenda. Having a specific agenda for every meeting helps shape the discussion you hope will take place. The meeting agenda should include a schedule of time allotted for each topic and emailed to participants before the meeting takes place. Invite participants to put together a few bullet points so they come to the meeting prepared to actively contribute.

“As a meeting participant, you should know what problem is being solved,” notes TechRepublic, “or what key activity a meeting is uniquely suited to advance.” Every meeting organizer should make this determination before inviting others to attend.

  1. Eliminate distractions. Restricting the use of digital devices is never a popular move. But allowing meeting participants to text, check email or post something on social media while a meeting is in progress is both unproductive and disrespectful. If you lead a meeting that stays focused and moves forward, people will be more likely to let go of their devices for that brief period of time and pay attention.
  1. Hone your meeting leadership skills. Assuming you, as CEO, business owner or other C-level executive are calling a meeting, it’s your responsibility to lead it as skillfully as possible. This means crafting an agenda and sticking to it, as well as encouraging everyone involved to provide input, within reason. It also means restraining your own impulse to control the discussion.

“Too often, leaders offer their ideas first,” note The Globe and Mail. It’s more important to “encourage members of the team to offer their ideas first, especially those less inclined to speak up.”

You never know where the next great idea will come from.

  1. Sum up and follow-up. The most productive meetings include a brief summing-up of what’s been discussed and decided. Summarize key action points, assign responsibility for upcoming tasks and ask if anyone has pertinent questions. Make sure team members leave with a clear understanding of what just took place. 
  1. Establish a practice of productive meetings. Let team members know that holding a meeting shouldn’t be the first course of action when presented with an issue or opportunity. Calling a meeting simply for a “status update” is unnecessary, given all the communications technology available to achieve this goal. Encourage people to address certain topics through email, small group conversations or simply one-on-one. Pretty soon, people will get the message and your meeting schedule will become less crowded and more productive.

We believe meetings still serve a useful purpose in the hardwood lumber industry. It is still valuable to hear from our sawmill managers, lumber traders, foresters, and others who have their ear to the ground and can give other members of our team an idea of what is going on from their point of view. For example, this could be noting changes in species demand like Red Oak, White Oak, Ash or Cherry in certain industries, or perhaps customers have been increasingly requesting specialty sorts and products like ripped-to-width hardwood lumber, or even discussing sawing strategy with our sawmill managers.

The same probably holds true for your industry. By introducing more discipline and focus, you can get people involved in the discussion and inspired to take further action on their own.

Have any tips you have found beneficial for holding more productive meetings? We would love to hear them!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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