An effective meeting accomplishes a predetermined set of goals in a constructive way while using company time efficiently. Following the proper rules for appropriate meeting behavior (note: these are rules for both meeting leaders and attendees!) helps make it more valuable, briefer, and a better experience for all involved.
- Set a clear objective before the meeting. Think about what you would like the meeting to accomplish and to what extent. Go beyond “review performance reports” or “discuss quarterly budget” – what do you expect to determine by the end of the meeting? Are you planning to brainstorm with the team, or come to a final decision?
- Invite attendees carefully. Respect your team’s time – don’t bring in people who don’t need to be there.
- Send out a meeting agenda beforehand. This helps everyone get prepared.
- Prepare thoroughly. Prep your presentations and test them in advance. Keep all images, charts, etc. that you will need in an easy-to-find location.
- Set time-management goals for each issue to be discussed. Decide how much time you will spend discussing each topic, and move on when time is up. (Note: you may also want to decide in advance what to do if you have not accomplished your objective for that topic before time is up. Discuss it again at the end of the meeting? Or schedule a new meeting to finish up unresolved issues?)
- Start late to accommodate latecomers. Respect the time of the employees who did show up on time – others can catch up.
- Slide off-topic. This drags meetings out, wastes company time, and doesn’t get you any closer to meeting your objective. Stay on-task one-hundred percent of the time.
- Allow one person to dominate. Give everyone a fair shot at speaking their opinion.
- End late (even to finish unresolved business). Especially if your meeting is in the late morning or the end of the day – when your team is ready to go to lunch or go home – don’t drag your meetings out. Even if the objective has not been fully accomplished, it’s important to respect your team’s personal time as well as professional time. Additionally, the occasional unsuccessful meeting is a learning opportunity to improve your meeting-conducting skills the next time around.
- Neglect to send out a meeting summary. This helps everyone remember what was discussed and what points still need to be resolved. Assign someone to take notes during the meeting and send important info out to the team.
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