The meeting room: where modern man unites his tribe, conquers his enemies and emerges the victor with the spoils.
At least, that’s the theory.
In practise, whatever your profession, calling your colleagues together in a badly ventilated room to ‘brain storm’ and ‘synchronise efforts’ can often result in a dispiriting hour watching them day dream, fidget, or worse, hijack procedures to their own ends.
To help you take control of this modern workplace ritual, we asked investment strategist Hugh Karseras for his pointers on how to make meeting time really count.
Always have an agenda prepared. “Agendas are important because they set the scope and objectives of a meeting and focus the discussion towards them. Without an agenda, the meeting is just a chat where little is achieved.”
Warm up with pleasantries. “One of the more unfortunate aspects of the business world is that people get so focused on their job that they forget to be human. Showing a genuine interest in other people is very important in building an efficient network.”
Establish the time frame and stick to it. “Even if you schedule a specific time slot, people’s diaries often shift or things come up, so it’s always worth checking how much time they have. If you need more time than is offered, schedule a follow-up meeting or negotiate a longer time frame at the start of the meeting.”
Use time checks. “In social environments it is rude to look at your watch when talking to someone, but if you look at the time openly and say something like ‘I am conscious that we only have a few more minutes; perhaps we can focus on X or Y’, you will be respected for your professional courtesy and for your constructive focus.”
Conclude with a summary of agreed actions and next steps. “A summary provides a natural wrap-up and ensures that all of you leave the meeting clear on actions and responsibilities. If you have taken good notes, it’s easy to glance through them and reel off the important items that will require attention.