Stacey Hanke

By Stacey Hanke

Five Ways To Make Meetings Effective

Five Ways To Make Meetings Effective 150 150 Stacey Hanke

Do you ever feel like your day consists of endless meetings? Even worse, do you ever think some meetings are redundant? You meet about the same thing repeatedly yet never seem to conclude with any call to action.

Back in 1998, it was estimated that in the U.S., an average of 11 million meetings

were conducted each day, with a typical employee spending six hours per week in one. Research indicates the length and frequency during the past 50 years has risen over 10 hours

to the point where the average executive now spends over half of their working hours in meetings alone.

Many argue that meetings are necessary to innovate, create and brainstorm. Others claim they lead to a lack of personal productivity and are often ineffective at driving conclusions or momentum. I watched a hilarious YouTube video from comedians Tripp and Tyler that summarized every meeting across the country: ineffective, unorganized, inefficient and unproductive. While the video is meant to be a parody, it accurately summarizes what so many believe they experience in the workplace.

When meetings end without clear next steps, confusion ensues. This results in more meetings to further the discussion and clarify the miscommunication. Professionals can stop the never-ending meeting cycle with strong calls to action.

A call to action creates momentum by providing the next steps for all participants. When a meeting host ends each gathering with these clear scopes of work, they influence attendees to act upon what was said. Here are five tips to end meetings with strong calls to action that influence your listeners:

1. Be clear and direct

A call to action should be clear, not something your audience needs to decipher. Be direct with your language to eliminate the chances of confusion or misunderstandings.

Instead of: “Who would you be willing to call and ask about the process?”

Try: “Janet, please call and ask about the process.”

This type of call to action assigns the task to a specific person. It is clear, concise and provides all attendees with next steps.

2. Establish deadlines

The greater your relationship with attendees, the more direct your calls to action can become. For instance, a sales professional can’t tell a prospect what to do, but they can be specific in their request for a call-to-action deadline.

Instead of: “Will you contact me once you reach a decision?”

Try: “Will you be deciding by Friday?”

This helps establish a timeline and lets everyone attending know who is responsible for what action and the expected deadline. Don’t push deadlines out too far. Motivation is lost when too much time is provided to act upon your call to action. Providing shorter deadlines ensures continued momentum.

3. Remove barriers

When you host a meeting that requires attendees to fulfill your call to action immediately, provide them with the tools needed. For example, if you want participants to sign up for specific tasks, bring the forms and pens with you, providing immediate means to fulfill your request.

Instead of: “I’ll have a sign-up sheet in my office if you can stop by when you get the chance.”

Try: “I brought the sign-up sheet and some pens with me so everyone can sign up now.”

If clients need approval before they can sign, make the first call to action an organized stakeholder meeting as soon as possible.

Providing a means for listeners to fulfill your requests can prevent barriers from stopping the meeting momentum.

4. Focus on benefits

When creating calls to action, put the listeners’ needs first. Make your requests about meeting their needs, not just your own. Attendees are more likely to act quickly if they believe their own best interests are at stake, not only yours.

Instead of: “It would make my day if you would follow up with the client by the end of the week.”

Try: “Get an answer from the client by the end of the week to ensure the sale counts toward your quarterly quota.”

Putting their needs first will help them remain motivated and focused on accomplishing the tasks necessary to continue the momentum.

5. Customize for each listener

It’s tempting for meeting organizers to avoid assigning tasks to specific people and avoid being pushy or demanding. On the contrary, calling on people individually allows them to know precisely what you expect of them and the importance their role plays in the entire group. Calling on a group of people to act is vague. It allows everyone to avoid responsibility and leave the call to action open for others to act instead.

Instead of: “Would someone call accounting and get the final numbers?”

Try: “Scott, will you call accounting to get the final numbers, then provide the answer to the team by Monday? This will provide clarity for your budget needs this quarter.”

Calls to action are a clear way to influence your listeners to act upon what you said. It will provide actionable steps and avoid future misunderstandings. Your meeting will be effective, productive, and a great use of everyone’s time.