The summer kicks off this weekend and in most businesses, summer communicates some very powerful messages about schedules, productivity, vacations and yes, meetings.
Meetings continue to be a massive time waster and area of frustration for millions of professionals who continually ask themselves; “Why am I in this meeting?” Or; “What is the purpose of this meeting?” Or, better yet; “Why are we even meeting on this?” But while the effort to improve the way we manage and communicate in our meetings is always important, it is especially relevant in these summer months when people are easily distracted by the warm weather and other activities outside of the workplace.
With this in mind, consider these practical meeting tips and tools that will help your team be more productive during the summer months:
--Consider moving your regular weekly meeting to a bi-weekly meeting. Ask yourself whether you have to meet every week over the next few months? If there is certain business that requires immediate communication, don’t wait for next week’s meeting. Deal directly with that person on your team face to face, over the phone or via e-mail. Use alternate methods of communication to be productive other than sitting in a meeting at a regularly scheduled time every week.
--Don’t schedule meetings on Fridays or Mondays during the summer. Think about it. Even your best, most productive, people often want to use the summer months to create a three-day weekend. Sometimes, it is a Friday. Other weeks, it’s a Monday. Either way, when things are happening down at the Jersey shore, up in the Poconos or down in Atlantic City, Fridays and Mondays are just not the best time for a meeting.
--Remember, many of your team members take their vacation over the summer, so planning is essential. Since business still needs to be conducted, it is important to know who is going on vacation when and plan your meeting agendas accordingly. If a key team member is on vacation when a meeting agenda item is scheduled to be discussed (and that person is leading the effort) does it really make sense to discuss that item? Planning during the summer for what will be communicated and addressed in your meetings is essential based on who will actually be attending.
--A summer “retreat.” Use the summer to plan a strategic retreat in the morning where your team goes off site to deal with a few big picture questions about the future of your organization. Communicate those questions to meeting participants the week before the retreat and tell team members to come prepared to talk candidly about them. Only go from 9 a.m. to noon, and break for lunch. Then, do something social and fun with your team. Go to Monmouth Racetrack. Go on a picnic. Or, better yet, go to a B&B down the Jersey shore for that strategic morning session and then in the afternoon hit the boardwalk. Go on some rides and have some laughs. But the rule is no business. Taking this time out to be together in a relaxed social setting will do wonders for team morale and will allow people to get to know each other a little better outside of the office. It will also help improve communication between team members.
--Short and sweet. While this is a tip especially for the summer, it should be mandatory year round since time is our most precious commodity. Why not the 30-minute rule? No meetings can last more than 30-minutes. I’m serious. Think about how much more productive and concise we would all be if we were put on the clock as opposed to being in a meeting that could go on forever.
Most importantly, have fun this summer even while conducting your business.