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10 Tips to Run Productive Meetings

In: How To

Meetings have a reputation of productivity killers among the employees. They take too much time, they are often off-point or simply don’t achieve the purpose they were called for. The executives consider over half of the meetings be failures. Ineffective meetings take time, energy and turn out to be pretty costly for any organization.

On the flip side, meetings are extremely helpful when it comes to bonding the team together, finding new ideas or solutions of a complex problem. Properly organized, effective meetings can move the team forward and help you achieve long-term goals faster. To run effective meetings that energize the team and make them feel excited about their work, follow the principles below.

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10 tips to make your meetings effective

Starting on time and coming prepared is the classic advice for running a meeting. However, it is not sufficient to make a meeting truly productive and achieve a certain business goal through it. Here’s how to take the effectiveness of your meetings to the next level:

  1. Define if you need a meeting at all
    Meetings take time and are pretty costly for the company, so before you book a conference room, decide whether calling a meeting is necessary. For instance, if you want simply to share the information or announce the news, getting the entire team together makes no sense. It’s faster and more efficient to share the information through the intranet or email. If you don’t have a clear purpose or the issue can be resolved without a meeting, it’s a wise decision not to call it.
  2. Set a clear measurable goal
    Everyone has been on the meetings when the attendees seem to be going back and forth on the issue and never come to a new conclusion. If you want the meeting to be productive instead of turning into another chitchat session, set a clear goal. “Discuss a new project” or “attracting new clients” are poor examples of meeting goals. “Discover the strategies for improving customer satisfaction by 15%” is a good one. If you have clear expectations from the meeting, there’s every chance that it will go effectively and productively.
  3. Create and share an agenda
    To run the meeting that helps achieve business goals, you want others to come prepared. To accomplish this, create a detailed meeting plan along with the objectives and email it to all attendees at least the day in advance. Thus, the coworkers will be able to do their homework on the issues and make more valuable contributions. However, avoid the common mistake of embracing all issues the department is currently facing – otherwise, you’ll have no chance to give each issue proper consideration.
  4. Stick to the schedule
    As you create an agenda, also allocate time for discussion of each point in your plan. Poorly structured meetings have a tendency to last too long, and the attendees start checking their phones and simply wait for the meeting to end. Giving a limited time frame to cover each point of your plan and when you run out of time, switch to the next topic. Post the schedule somewhere in the visible place in the room (a whiteboard or poster) to keep the colleagues focused.
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  5. Select the attendees carefully
    More isn’t better when it comes to meetings. On the first hand, you want to invite people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to look at the issue from multiple sides. On the other hand, inviting too many coworkers is costly for the company and not everyone will effectively participate. Use the prior experience or ask for guidance of your boss to define the optimal number of attendees. Also, invite the key decision-makers in the relevant department so that they could criticize the idea or facilitate the changes offered.
  6. Choose the right time
    The ideal meeting time should be just enough to resolve a problem or discover new ideas so that the employees don’t get overly distracted from their everyday duties. Typically, you should follow the protocol accepted in your company or use the recommended length depending on the meeting type. For example, an effective duration of the regular team meeting is between 15 and 30 minutes, whereas a brainstorming session can take from 40 minutes to 1 hour. Also, mind the meeting type when choosing the time of day. Creative meetings are more effective in the morning, and if you need to solve a problem, choose the time after lunch (but avoid Friday evening at all costs!).
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  7. Foster trust and openness
    To get the most out of the meeting, encourage everyone to participate. Some people who are naturally shy won’t speak up, so ask their opinions. You need the insights of everyone, including those who are less confident and assertive. To make sure everyone feels confident when expressing their ideas or opinions, foster a safe and open environment during the meetings. Some employees vary of expressing overly creative, odd or unpopular opinions, so show that you value all contributions. Ask questions to provoke a discussion – this will encourage people to be more open.
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  8. Maximize the engagement of all attendees
    When all participants are focused on getting things done, everyone benefits from it. People who are concentrated on the discussion suggest better ideas, participate in arguments and such a meeting typically takes less time and achieves the results set. So, make sure everyone is engaged in the subject of the meeting. Set the expectations that you’ll need 100% of everyone’s attention. Present easy-to-understand information using slides, charts, and pictures. Most importantly, ban the technology. Otherwise, the employees will be checking their messengers instead of working out the strategy for cost reduction.
  9. Add more interaction to the meeting
    You can get away from the standard meeting format when one person does the talking and the rest listens and asks questions/speaks their minds. Depending on the meeting type and purpose, you can engage several presenters so that a different person leads each section. Not only it will allow the specialists in a certain area provide a deeper perspective, but also keep the audience’s focus fresh. You can also divide the attendees into teams and ask them to accomplish small tasks – for instance, to write a slogan for the next marketing campaign.
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  10. Follow up
    After the meeting ends, don’t forget to send a short memo to all attendees and those who didn’t manage to participate. Outline the main topics of discussion and what was accomplished during the meeting. Sum up the steps that everyone needs to take, tasks delegated, and new responsibilities. By following up, you reduce the risk that someone misinterpreted the discussion findings and make sure that the right actions will be taken. Therefore, you lay the foundation for the positive changes in your department or the company.

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