What is one of the quickest ways to decrease office productivity? Allowing your one-hour team meeting to turn into a two-hour meeting. And then after those long two hours have past, you have accomplished nothing because there was no process in place to keep the meeting on track or in scope.
What’s the fix? It’s pretty simple; just have a better meeting by applying these strategies.
Prepare in Advance. Prior to the start of the meeting, you as the chair or person in charge of the meeting should compile an agenda, set the goals of the meeting and then give the attendees a clear outline of topics up for discussion and the time allotted for each topic. If the agenda states 15 minutes, then the conversation around that topic should not go any longer than the 15 minutes allotted. Before the meeting begins, go over the agenda and discuss ground rules to make sure the meeting ends on time. Your meeting will go a lot smoother if your attendees understand your vision of how the meeting will play out.
Introduce the E.L.M.O Technique. E.L.M.O. is an acronym for “Enough. Let’s Move On”. It’s a technique that is gaining momentum in office meetings and best used when you have a lot to go over in a short period. When meetings start veering off topic or drag on too long on one topic, anyone can simply say E.L.M.O., effectively closing that particular topic or train of conversation allowing for the meeting to continue to the next topic. Some companies even use an Elmo doll from Sesame Street or create a sign with his picture on it. The doll or sign has the same effect as saying E.L.M.O.
Track the Presenters Time. Let everyone know in advance how much time they have to present at the meeting and then enforce the allotted time by setting a timer or designating someone in the group as time-keeper. Once the timer goes off, their time is up and you move on to the next presenter. If there is any time left before the meeting is over, you can allow them to wrap up anything that they did not have time to say. Under no circumstances, should you allow the meeting to go over the scheduled time. If time runs out, they can follow-up with an email or hold off until the next meeting to discuss.
Be Clear on the Take-Away and To-Do Items. Be clear on what your expectations are if there are take-away or to-do items. Let attendees know in advance that you expect their answers or results before the next meeting or if you want them to present their findings during the next meeting. Once clear you can add this time into the agenda for the next meeting.