Making Meetings Matter

Few words in the business world have as polarizing an effect as meetings. When planned purposefully and run efficiently they can be a catalyst for setting priorities, solving problems and brainstorming ideas that create breakthroughs in the pursuit of important goals. When planned and run poorly, they become a black hole of lost time that undercuts productivity and morale.

To make sure your meetings result in actionable insights that signify time well spent, consider putting these winning strategies on the agenda.

Invite The Right People. Having the appropriate personnel in the room is more than half the battle. When you plan your meeting, think about who has the potential to make meaningful contributions. By leaving out spectators, you could very well wind up with a smaller meeting that’s much more productive.

Encourage Preparation. Whenever possible, distribute information in advance to help participants show up informed and ready. This will create time for people to actually share and debate ideas rather than scramble to get up to speed by reading background materials.

Start By Stating The Meeting’s Purpose. Gather any number of people and you’ll have a variety of interpretations about the mission at hand. Nip speculation in the bud and lay out the precise objective right away by posing the questions, “Why are we here and what do we need to accomplish?” By answering those up front, you’ll get everyone quickly focused and working in unison.

Stay On Point. Keeping everyone in synch with the agenda and related topics is essential to a successful, time-efficient meeting. One effective way to do this is to interject whenever comments seem to be deviating. By saying, for example, “Let’s table that for another day and stay focused on the subject at hand,” you can head off detours and redirect the discussion as necessary.

Confirm and Clarify. As the meeting progresses, periodically summarize the points being made. These reality checks can create consensus and lead to solutions that have the commitment of the group.

Review Action Steps At The End. Wrapping up a meeting by having each participant review the actions they’ve captured will cultivate accountability and follow through. The exercise will likely take less than a minute per person and put a spotlight on steps that might have been missed or misunderstood. Having meeting details finalized and distributed by a designated note-taker reinforces the link between discussion and action.

When conducted with little foresight and structure, meetings can disrupt workflow and squander huge chunks of time. By following these steps to grouping up wisely, you’ll see more ideas brought to the table … and more results that matter to your business.

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