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How to Make Meetings Better

Last updated May 6, 2014

Is your diary packed to the rafters; no time to do the important work; is your day filled with an endless round of coffee and biscuits? Wow, don’t they waste time and increase the waistline too.

But stop, say no to more meetings and get the work done instead! I’ve just finished reading The Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott and these tips were inspired by his excellent book.

  • Is the meeting really necessary? By calling it are you wasting lots of other peoples’ time just to fluff your own ego?
  • You can so 'NO' to other peoples meetings, just pick the right ones to say no to! Be selective; Graham has lots of tips on how to avoid those unproductive meetings.

If you are having a meeting then consider these:

1. Have a clear objective for the meeting, for example “By the end of the meeting we will have decided whether or not to launch Product X and if so, when we will launch it”. This way everyone will know what to expect and can prepare themselves.

2. Prepare the meeting in advance – remember failing to plan is planning to fail

3. Prepare and circulate an agenda in advance of the meeting, include your objective

4. If there is pre-reading issue it so that everyone has time to read it. Make it a condition that pre-reading must be read before the meeting.

5. The agenda should have timings on it to keep you on track – don’t overrun and mess up everyone’s productive time

6. If you call the meeting, you should chair it – after all it’s working to your objective everyone is working too.

7. Appoint an action taker; no minutes unless it’s a legal meeting. Action points should state who is doing what and by when.

8. Use a laptop to capture actions as you go, do a quick review at the end of the meeting and circulate them to everyone the same day.

9. The hard works starts again after the meeting, so getting those action points out quickly is important if you are going to keep momentum up.

10. Make visitors comfortable; make introductions but don’t take too long, time is money

11. Know which agenda items are going to be tricky or controversial and deal with them just before coffee break or lunch. Graham uses this tactic often as most people won’t want to delay either break!

12. Be aware of the dynamics in the room, keep attendees engaged and learn to manage the disruptive element.

13. Always set the scene at the beginning, then the agenda and then a round up at the end; a bit like a speech; tell them what you are going to tell, tell them and tell them what you told them!

Graham also has some great tips on alternative ways to get super productive without having a formal round the table meeting.

shirley-mansfield-CoachSME
Shirley Mansfield
Master Business Problem Solver

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