4 Ways to Make Your Next Meeting a Better Use of Everyone’s Time

Have you ever been in a meeting that was simply mind-numbingly boring? Or worse, have you ever led a meeting that you were sure everyone else felt was mind-numbingly boring? Following are four ways to make better use of everyone’s time during your next meeting:

  1. Be sure to have an overall goal (and be sure everyone attending knows that goal). When people attend your meeting(s), they’re taking time out of their schedules (and their lives) to be with you. If your meeting is 60 minutes long, make sure everyone in attendance knows what “success” for your meeting will look like at the end of the 60 minutes you’ve spent together. One example could be: “At 10am, when we walk out the door, we will have identified the primary benefit of our new customer relations software for each division in the company.”

Identifying the overall goal is essential even for regular team meetings, since that primary goal will probably change from week to week. When a primary goal isn’t clearly articulated, everyone is left to assume they know the purpose of the meeting. Is the meeting simply for information sharing (and if so, why is it important that everyone pay attention; what’s the value in sharing the information)? Is the meeting to brainstorm? Is the meeting to prepare for and align on another (bigger, more important) meeting?

  1. Have an agenda. An agenda provides much-needed structure to the meeting. A detailed agenda can lend a helping hand to meeting efficiency by making sure everyone in attendance is clear on what will be covered, who will cover it, how much time will be allocated for each topic and what is expected from everyone else. Click here for a sample. Added bonus: sending your agenda out at least 48 business hours in advance (ie: don’t send it on a Friday and expect people to prepare for a Monday morning meeting) helps all attendees prepare for what will be expected of them and it demonstrates to your attendees that you’ve put some time and thought into the meeting. Click here for a blank meeting agenda template.
  2. Set some M/P/V goals. I was introduced to this concept about a year ago and it has done wonders for how much I can get out of meetings – both 1:1 meetings as well as meetings with small and large groups. M/P/V stands for:
  • Minimum: What’s the very least that should come out of any given meeting topic?
  • Primary: What’s the expected outcome of any given topic?
  • Visionary: If you were given one wish, what would you wish could come from any given topic?

For example, if I’m meeting with a client with whom I haven’t spoken with in quite some time, my M/P/V goal for this meeting might look like this:

  • M: Re-engage with David in order to remind him that we exist and have done some good work together in the past.
  • P: Begin discussions on working with David on a new project at some point in the next six months.
  • V: Sign a new contract to begin working with David on a current project.

M/P/V goals can (and should) also be set for each topic of recurring meetings like team and staff meetings. Perhaps an “M” goal should always be: Ensure my attendees aren’t mind-numbingly bored!

  1. Have a presentation plan for anything that is not merely informational. Your presentation plan may simply be a few bullet-pointed notes on the back of a napkin or, if you really want to be a meeting pro and have a high degree of engagement, you could use a more formal presentation plan (click here for a sample presentation plan).

The key to better engagement during meetings is to be intentional about how you plan to engage your meeting attendees. If you need some help organizing your thoughts, click here for a blank meeting presentation plan template.

Each of these four suggestions take time (some steps take a lot more time than others). Taking some time to be intentional about the way you go about your meetings can make the actual time spent in the meeting more valuable for everyone involved.

Looking for some ideas about what good interaction during a meeting could look like? Try this previous post:

Know of someone else who’d like to get some ideas on how better to use everyone’s time during a meeting? Pass this along!

As for you, if you want access to a steady stream of articles to help improve your presentation skills then you should probably follow this blog.

Organizing a Presentation Outline – Lesson Plan

Being intentional and methodical when it comes to organizing your thoughts around a presentation – whether a 5-minute presentation during a team meeting, a formal training session or even a sales pitch – is such an under-utilized art form.

When I write the words “intentional and methodical,” I don’t mean just having an outline and then spending time on developing your slides to illustrate your point. I use the words “intentional and methodical” to mean an obsessive use of a formula that has been proven effective and successful in producing observable results.

Lesson Plan Templates

And there are a number of people searching for such a formula to use obsessively. “Lesson Plan Template” is one of the most common search terms that lead people to the Train Like A Champion blog. In general, those three keywords (and variations thereof) will take readers to one of the following previous posts that feature a blank lesson plan template:

organizing a presentation outline - blank lesson plan  Modified Lesson Plan - 9

If you’re in the market for a new way to organize a presentation outline and you want to try a formula that has been proven successful (a previous post entitled The Evolution of an SME offers more details on this claim), by all means, please visit one of those previous posts and download the free lesson plan template.

Examples of Organizing a Presentation Outline

Several readers have asked for a sample template that has been filled out in order to get a feel for organizing a lesson plan outline and how much information should be included (ie: should it be a verbatim script, should it simply have bullet points of key ideas to be presented, or should it have something in between these two extremes?). If you’d like to see an example of this lesson plan template in action, please click on this link to view a webinar lesson plan I created using this template.

If you do end up using this format to help organize a presentation outline, I’d love to hear how it works (so please drop a line in the comments section below). If you use a different method to organize your thoughts, I’d love to hear what method works for you (again, please drop a line in the comments section below).