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5 steps to more productive meeting management

We all know it, we’ve all been there. The meeting that goes on and on; the meeting where everyone sits playing with their smartphone; or the meeting where almost everyone in the room wonders the same thing: “Why am I here?”

The problems related to meetings have a lot to do with our decision making capabilities. Our understanding of the issue at hand vary, our communicating skills differ and we face resourcing problems – merely from the fact of rarely having the best minds around the table to make the decision.

Meetings are poorly planned, attended by wrong or too many people, without clearly defined roles. Making a decision becomes harder without preset objectives which leave meetings unproductive and meaningless. Yet, meetings are increasingly filling the number of hours we spend at work daily. So, how to ensure that meetings are productive and meaningful in the future?

5 easy steps to more effective meeting management

Here are some universal tips how to improve traditional meetings and decision making.

1. Plan the agenda well beforehand

Create a well-prepared agenda with relevant responsibilities that has a clearly defined scope narrowed to a few key areas. Set a clear timeline with allotted minutes to track time. Share the agenda with the stakeholders in advance to allow them to think through the key concepts and come up with their own ideas, questions, and feedback before and after the meeting. This way running the meeting will be smoother and more meaningful.

Lesson: Without a well-prepared agenda, meetings often become “chat time” and although interaction with colleagues is important, without a clear goal it is just a waste of collaborative time.

2. Stick to the agreed agenda, start and end the meeting on time

Time is money and people appreciate when others understand that their time is valuable. Having the responsibility for running regular meetings and earning the reputation for being some who starts and ends promptly can turn out the be a huge accolade. Once you’re in the meeting, put the agenda up on a screen for attendees to see to keep them focused. Sixty minutes is generally the longest time people remain focused and engaged.

Lesson: Schedule meetings to be long enough to achieve their primary goals but not to reserve extra time for chatting.

3. Make sure you have the right people attending

When arranging a meeting, take time to think about who really needs to be present and contribute. One of the biggest bottlenecks in over 25% of meetings is that one or more of decision makers are absent leading to an average of 2 weeks delay in making the final decision.

Lesson: Make sure that everyone is aware of their role in the meeting. If they feel themselves unnecessary; lack the skills or expertise to be of assistance, they’ll view their attendance as a waste of time.

4. Be focused and present

Prepare yourself beforehand, be on time and be focused. Bring the most value to the table. Avoid multitasking; bringing phones and pads into the room will distract the focus away from the meeting and contributing to it towards checking emails, surfing on the web or just playing with technology.

Lesson: No one can be truly engaged in two things at once. Avoid distractions around you and bring more value to meetings by being present.

5. Follow up

It is quite common that after the meeting, people have very different interpretations of what went on. As we shared the agenda before the meeting, it is as important to share the meeting highlights with the attendees after the meeting. This way everyone can keep track on their responsibilities, tasks, and deadlines that were assigned. It is a great way to check the history of the meeting and its success; what were the goals, did we reach them, what was decided and so on.

Lesson: The beginning is as important as the end. Review your initial goals and see if they were met by following up.

If you seriously want to improve your meeting culture you should take a closer look at your decision making overall. The above 5 tips will get you started. Fingertip will take you to the next level!

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