What are the keys to running a productive meeting?

Meetings are sometimes held around conference ...

We’ve all been to them…meetings that drag on forever, yet nothing is accomplished. Or – my personal favorite – having a meeting to decide when the next one will be. There’s nothing I detest more than worthless meetings, so here are a few tips that will ensure you are never the facilitator for a waste of time.

1. Create a list of goals.

What do you want to accomplish at this meeting? If you don’t know what you want to accomplish, don’t bother scheduling one.

2. Determine which questions or discussions will lead to the accomplishment of those goals.

You can’t just walk into a meeting, slap a goal on a Power Point slide or white board, and hope that everyone has an instant idea. The point of having a meeting is to have everyone in the room use their brain power to bounce ideas off each other. Create at least a few questions to get the brains churning.

3. Create an agenda.

Depending on the nature of the meeting, you might divide up your agenda into topics that need to be discussed, or list each person who will give a report. No matter how you decide to organize your meeting, be sure to create a timeline for how long each topic or person will be given. This will keep everyone on their toes during the meeting and make sure that all necessary topics are covered by the time you want to end your meeting.

4. Email the agenda at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.

If you can do this one week beforehand, that would be ideal. But the minimum is two business days. Emailing the agenda early lets everybody know that you’re organized, have it together and mean business. It also gives attendees time to start thinking about what they’d like to say and perhaps even gather research or examples of ideas that they want to express.

5. Clarify expectations ahead of time.

This should be included in the agenda. Everyone should know what the expected results of the meeting are. If you want attendees to bring specific materials, instruct that in the agenda. If attendees must bring monetary contributions or will leave with funds and be expected to account for them, specify that in the agenda so that there are no surprises.

6. Collect RSVPs.

It’s important to know who will be present and who won’t. Those who won’t be present should be expected to send their information submissions ahead of time to other attendees. It should also be made clear to them that they’re expected to study the minutes to learn which tasks and roles for which they will be responsible.

7. Ensure all language needs will be addressed.

As businesses become global, meeting languages sometimes expand beyond native English speakers. Be sure you know the primary language of each attendee and ensure that you or they provide interpreters for the meeting itself as well as the meeting minutes to prevent any misunderstandings and miscommunication.

If you implement all of these steps, you will become known for running efficient and productive meetings. People will show up prepared and will get to the point because they know you won’t let meetings drag on endlessly and pointlessly. And everybody loves that guy or gal.

By the way, if you know anyone in the Secret Service, feel free to forward this post to them. The same rules apply in one-on-one situations as well.

 
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