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6 Steps For Effective Meetings

Effective Meetings

The room was always filled beyond capacity. Anyone in the organization the boss had even casually met was invited, and by invited he meant required to attend. There was an agenda, but it was meaningless since he didn’t follow it anyway. Any random thought could become the topic at hand, to be explored in minute detail. The only way to be truly prepared was No-Doze and luck. This happened every Thursday at 1:00 PM and often took the whole afternoon.
It was a painful lesson in how not to conduct effective meetings. The boss fell victim to a couple of common mistakes leaders make. First, he was extremely impressed with himself and the meetings were a way for him to let everyone know how important and smart he was. It didn’t work. In fact, those meetings tended to have the opposite effect.

Second, he seemed to be pathologically unable to stick to an agenda. He would wander from one topic to another and at even the slightest suggestion would trot off to something that had nothing to do with anything.
Meetings have become the bane of corporate existence. There are numerous, and sometimes radical suggestions for solving the meeting problem; ranging from not having meetings at all to everyone bring their own agenda. But, there’s no need for drastic measures. As the veteran of more meetings than I can count; some good, some bad, I’ve found these six simple questions will help you hold more effective meetings.

1. Is this meeting necessary? Is it really necessary to get a group of people together or can the issue be addressed in an email or one-on-one conversation? If the meeting is essential, invite only those who are required for the topics on the agenda.

2. Do you have an agenda? Make it clear what needs to be accomplished and who needs to attend. Plan the agenda for the amount of time available. Don’t plan for 15 topics when you know there will only be time for 5. Make sure everyone who needs to attend has the agenda ahead of time. I mean more than 30 minutes ahead of time.

3. Is the room prepared? Are there enough chairs? Are visual aids ready and operational? How will you arrange seating? Do this before the meeting start time. If the meeting is virtual, does everyone have the correct link? Resend it to be sure. Are you proficient at using the virtual meeting software? If not, educate yourself or have someone competent run the technical part of the meeting.

4. Do you start on time and end on time? Remember, everyone else’s time is valuable just like yours. They all have something else to do too.

5. Do you stick to an agenda? It’s your roadmap to success. That doesn’t mean you should ignore a concern that may come up, but it’s okay to table issues that pop up or assign them to someone to work after the meeting.

6. Do you publish timely minutes? Minutes published a month after the meeting are not very useful. A short review of the meeting helps everyone remember what was discussed and who had assignments.

Meetings are a necessary tool for leaders. You might be surprised to know that people don’t mind attending meetings that are productive. What would your team say? Do you lead effective meetings?

There are more detailed tips for successful meetings, plus many more techniques for more effective leadership in Don’t Worry, You Can Do This: What New Supervisors and Managers Need to Know About Leadership.

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