Poet T.S. Eliot wrote that “April is the cruelest month,” though when I was growing up in New York, I was convinced that moniker belonged to February. Winter has been cruel to most of us this winter, with lots of businesses forced to have snow days the way we used to have school days. This means hours of lost productivity and possibly worse for your business. To combat the lost hours, you need to be super-efficient, especially when it comes to something so many entrepreneurs already consider a time-waster—meetings. According to Blue Jeans Network's Modern State Meetings Report, February is the busiest meeting month of the year. In this cruel month, holding efficient meetings is essential—it’s a short month to start with, and you’ve already lost productive hours. Think the concept of productive meetings is oxymoronic? Think again.
Jay O'Connor, the CMO of Blue Jeans Network, a cloud-based conferencing service, shares some tips that will help you have more productive meetings not just this month, but all year long.
- Create an agenda: With everyone rushing from one meeting to the next this month, it’s easy to throw the meeting agenda to the curb and do without it. If you think you can effectively run a meeting without an agenda, you’re wrong. It’s easy to digress in a meeting, especially when it’s a big meeting with over five attendees (the average number of participants in a meeting is about five). Taking 10 minutes to develop an agenda before going into a meeting can actually save you time, making your meeting more effective and productive.
- Time is money: Start meetings on time, or you or your colleagues will be late to the next meeting. Blue Jeans Network found that over 50 percent of attendees are late to meetings. This is a bad habit and waste of time (every 5 minutes adds up!). If you notice that someone is always late to a meeting, either call the person out or get started without him or her.
- Lure them in with tasty treats and rewards: Consider offering additional incentives to get people excited and more engaged. If it’s a meeting later in the day, offer up refreshments or perhaps wine or beer as a treat. Provide breakfast items if it’s a morning meeting. Who doesn’t love free food and beverages? You may not be able to offer up tasty treats during a virtual meeting, but you can present a reward to keep people engaged, such as offering a Starbucks gift card to the participant who comes up with the best input for a campaign.
- Take a breather: When you have back-to-back meetings, it’s hard to take a break. That’s why you have to plan ahead. Review your calendar the day before and determine times when you can step out of the conference room or your home office for a quick walk around the block to refresh your mind. Creative ideas often emerge when you’re relaxed and in a different environment.
One type of meeting that’s always productive: the one you have with your SCORE mentor. If you don’t have a mentor, visit www.score.org to get matched with one today.