Better Meetings

Close-up side view of business colleagues using laptop at office desk









Time wasting-meetings are despised by most business people. They see them as a distraction and an unpleasant experience. That said, without meetings, ideas can not be shared and direction, so critical for the efficient running of a business, cannot be issued. This post attempts to make your meetings more productive with some short pointers.

Why, again?

Before calling a meeting, everybody must be sure that there's a real reason to meet; 'just our weekly meeting' is not a good enough answer to the question why. There must be a clear goal, this is normally articulated in the agenda. Sure, if meeting weekly helps scheduling; schedule it. But, don't be afraid to cancel it if there's nothing to talk about.

Good agendas mean productive meetings:

So, your goals are articulated in an agenda, we all know this. What seems to go wrong is that the goals, tasks or speaking parts are poorly understood, or the most junior person preps the agenda and it does not get checked properly. A good agenda has the topic to be discussed or decided (there's a difference; why are you discussing it?). It also shows who's responsible and how long they've got. The attendance must be then tailored to fit the meeting's goals. Lastly, the agenda needs to be released suitably early for attendees to prepare thoroughly.

Chair efficiently:

Chairing a meeting well is a skill that needs a bit of development. If it's done poorly, the meeting will last too long, not make the required decisions and inadvertently suppress good ideas. Points to be decided, need to be presented and then the chair must decide when to move to a decision. There may be many issues that do not require debate, chairs should not be afraid to ask if this is the case and move straight to a decision.

If issues arrive that are not directly relevant but none the less good, there is a challenge for the chair. They must be willing to say 'great point, develop it with a small team and get back to me at the next meeting'. This has got to be done without killing enthusiasm for contributing.

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Posted on Jun 02 2014

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