Oh no, not another meeting! How many times have you heard that cry? Every business, regardless of its size, has meetings. They are a necessary part of getting things done. If managed in the right way, they can be very effective. Handled poorly, they can be major time wasters and harmful to productivity.
Good meetings allow people in an organization or on a team to learn what everyone else is doing, what each person’s responsibilities are and what progress is being made. They can be empowering to individuals, helpful in developing leadership skills and morale boosters for the company.
Bad meetings, those without a focus, a clear agenda or proper planning, can undermine morale and create dissatisfaction.
When meetings get off track, here are seven simple steps for effective meetings to bring them back.
Be prepared. Meetings are work so work on them. The more preparation that goes into a meeting, the more effective it will be.
Have an agenda. The agenda does not need to be lengthy or complicated. A listing of the items to be addressed and by whom is sufficient. The key is to get the agenda out ahead of time so everyone comes prepared. If you can’t decide on an agenda, could be you don’t need a meeting.
Pay attention to the time. Start and end when you say you will. Assigning time to each agenda item and having someone responsible for watching the clock is a helpful way to stay on schedule.
Have fewer meetings. Consider if you can get the work done without a meeting. You may be able to handle the issue with a phone call or e-mail. When quantity decreases, quality will increase.
Carefully choose the participants. It is important to have all points of view and a variety of participants, but be sure that everyone at the meeting has a good reason to be there.
Stay focused. If the discussion starts to wander from the agenda, bring it back to the business at hand as quickly as possible.
Get feedback. You may want to provide an evaluation form at the end of the meeting or if the group is small, you may find it easier to poll the participants. Ask what went well, what went wrong and what can be done to improve the next meeting.
Whether you are the leader or a participant, everyone involved in the meeting has a responsibility for seeing that it goes well. It is not complicated; it simply requires commitment from all.
Here’s to effective meetings,
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Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.
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