Complaints about time wasted in meetings are common in all businesses, big or small, local, national or global. In any business time is a precious commodity especially in small companies and new start-ups when there never seems to be enough time to get the day to day work done let alone spend hours in meetings that don???t seem to have any productive value.

Unfortunately we can?t get away from meetings they are part and parcel of today??? business world. They range from board meetings, departmental meetings, one to one meetings etc. or to meetings with suppliers or bank managers!

Most training seems to be focused on chairing skills but every participant has a role to play in ensuring the effectiveness of the meeting. In some respects ???everybody???s a chairbody???.

12 tips to help everyone get the best out of meetings:

  1. Before arranging a meeting. Make sure you and everyone knows and has the same understanding of the purpose of the meeting.

  2. Only invite those absolutely required to achieve the objectives of the meeting. Large meetings tend to result in a lot of talking and little in the way of results.

  3. Does it need to be a face to face meeting? Could a planned and schedules conference call (or even video conference) suffice? This would save considerable unnecessary travel time and expense. There is nothing worse than a three hour drive for a two hour meeting, which means you can say goodbye to a whole day???s work.

  4. If you???re leading the meeting create an agenda and circulate well in advance. Armed with this information can be prepared, by all, and circulated prior to the meeting as a ???pre-read???. Don???t waste valuable meeting time reading out what others could have read before.

  5. Agree a finish-by time for the meeting. This will provide a useful discipline and help keep the meeting focused. ??A finish-by time also allows you to plan your other work.

  6. Identify your personal objectives for the meeting in terms of ???what do I want the result to be by the end of the meeting???? Write the objective(s) out to assist you in your preparation. Don???t be afraid to share your objectives with everyone attending,

  7. Use the agenda to keep attendees focused. Add times to individual agenda items to make sure specific points are covered but don???t over run and risk the finish by time.

  8. Don???t be afraid to challenge the consensus. Too much conformity can lead to poor decisions. Remember the ???emperor???s new clothes???.

  9. Be constructive and avoid emotional responses. Choose your words and tone carefully.

  10. Accept that the discussions may go off at a tangent. This can be a good thing as it can often be creative but make sure you use your notes and agenda to unravel the tangent and get back to the main structure of the meeting.

  11. Write up your notes, minutes or action log as soon as possible after the meeting to ensure you capture all the relevant points. Ensure you include what needs to be done, by whom and by when.

  12. Finally. Make sure you do the things you have agreed to do and follow up.

So don???t let meetings slow your business down make them drive your business onwards and upwards by being lean, efficient and productive.

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