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Getting the Most from Meetings
Meetings are an essential part of business life, but getting the most from them takes thought and planning. Often, people feel that meetings are unnecessary, could have been avoided altogether, or the time used could have been put to better use elsewhere. But meetings can be effective and productive if planned and managed properly.
Know your objectives
Firstly, ask, do you really need a meeting? If you don’t want to waste company time, as well as the time of others, make sure a phone call or email won’t do.
Be very clear on the purpose of the meeting. Spend time working out the objectives, who needs to attend and how you can make it most productive. When that’s done, make sure you only invite people that can actively contribute to the objectives, or have a stakeholder interest in the outcome or issues raised.
The right time and place
Before sending out invites, make sure the venue for the meeting is available for the proposed date/time. Likewise, ensure it has adequate seating space for those attending, as well as all the tools and amenities needed to make sure the meeting goes smoothly and on schedule.
Next, give everyone enough time to respond to a meeting request and make the necessary arrangements to get there. Remember, everyone has their own duties and schedules to adhere to, so do what you can to accommodate everyone, and ensure that the meeting runs as scheduled and finishes when planned.
Provide an agenda
Getting buy-in from everyone who needs to be there means demonstrating why they need to be there, so along with the invitation, provide a full agenda and, if necessary, a note regarding what you expect their contribution to be.
If necessary, appoint a chairperson and establish rules of order needed to prevent the meeting going off topic or agenda, as that could mean going over schedule. Having someone available to take minutes can be useful for sending out to attendees and non-attendees afterwards. A minute taking training can help with getting better and more efficient at taking them.
At the end of the meeting, agree on any follow-ups or actions to be completed as a result and include these in the minutes. That way attendees and other stakeholders can see what has been achieved.
Finally, when sending out the minutes, don’t forget to ask for feedback so you can evaluate if you can do anything better next time.
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