Become a “Meetings Master” with These Tips from Boise Paper

A recent study found that the average office worker spends around 16 hours in meetings each week*. Before deciding to host a meeting, consider that over the course of a year, this translates into more than a full month spent with colleagues across a conference table. While meetings are a great way to gather and provide team input and updates, chances are, much of your coworkers’ time – as well as your own – could be utilized more effectively.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to transform meetings into the productive sessions they're meant to be. With the following tips gathered by Boise Paper, you’ll become a “Meetings Master” and earn the respect and appreciation of your managers and colleagues.

Evaluate Your Options – Before setting up a meeting, ask yourself if it’s really needed. It’s easy to get caught in a routine of weekly update meetings, but depending on the week, it’s possible that the updates you need could be provided more efficiently with an email or brief phone call. Also consider timing – are you giving participants enough time to effectively prepare valuable input, and are all the necessary players able to attend? If not, you’ll get more value out of postponing the meeting or considering other options.

Put It on Paper – Prior to hosting any meeting, send a bulleted agenda via email to attendees, and have printed paper copies in the meeting room for everyone in attendance. A written agenda keeps both the leader and participants on task, and ensures priority topics and action items are discussed. Include a meeting objective so that the meeting’s purpose remains top-of mind, and consider allotting a specific amount of time for each agenda item so that each item gets the necessary attention – nothing more and nothing less. For high-profile meetings, presentation counts. Higher-quality paper like Boise POLARIS® Premium Multipurpose is ideal for impressive client- and customer-facing agendas and meeting documents.

Arrange for Efficiency – If you’re the leader of the meeting, all eyes should be on you. Arrange the seating so that all the participants are facing you, as well as whatever screens, whiteboards or props you intend to use. This will help eliminate distractions and make it easier for participants to stay focused and pay attention.

Keep It Exclusive – We all like to be included in things, but when it comes to meetings, sometimes less is more. The greater the number of attendees, the greater the potential to veer off-topic. Also, keep in mind that each hour spent in a meeting is one hour that could have been spent on other work, so as a host, keep the meeting limited solely to the essential players and decision makers whose input and updates are needed.

Plan Breaks – For meetings longer than two hours, your agenda should have breaks built in for attendees to use the facilities, or perhaps to boost their energy with a coffee refill or snack. Also consider whether your attendees will need some time to check e-mail or return calls during break time.

Start and Finish on Time – Don’t reward stragglers by waiting for them to arrive before starting the meeting. Starting – and ending – your meetings at the published times shows respect for your colleagues and their time, and helps set precedent for the future.

Follow-up – Once the meeting concludes, distribute paper copies of the meeting minutes or to-do’s within 24 hours of the meeting. Meeting minutes don’t have to be a word-for-word account of the meeting, but they should include important topics and assignments. This last, but essential, step also eliminates any ambiguity over assignments and next steps and ensures everyone is on the same “page” – literally.