Avoid Meetings at all costs. But, if you have too…

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Tips for Meetings

Tips for meetings come from many, I like to avoid if possible but for most of us that is not going to work, we can cut but can not avoid. Work less and play more maybe?

I once had a coworker who would spend her time in meetings mentally calculating how much everyone at the table made per hour and how much money we were wasting at any particular meeting. Her numbers were staggering, and brought into clear focus just how much did not get done at the weekly Monday meeting. 

Most professionals spend an incredible amount of time each month in meetings, averaging about 60 per month. Research suggests as much as 50 percent of this time is wasted. So why do we go to meetings at all, then? What are some tips for meetings that will help reduce this amount of wasted time?

When done right, meetings can prove useful. You do need to get together face to face with colleagues to carry out specific goals and projects some of the time. But you can have better, more productive meetings by following a few key protocols.

Tips for Meetings

Tip 1. Set a purpose for your meeting.

Teachers do this all the time in classrooms. You need to explicitly communicate with students what you expect them to know by the end of lesson and not make them guess. The same goes for meetings. All participants should understand what intended purpose of the meeting so they understand what they need to carry out and why they should attend at all in the first place.

2. Create — and stick to — an agenda.

This is a bit of a no brainer but happens far too often in the business world. You set a meeting, everyone shows up and then looks around wondering what to talk about. It’s also wise to publish the agenda ahead of time so all participants can come ready to discuss each topic. This also gives meeting participants a chance to gather materials they may want to share, research topics ahead of time or prepare a presentation.

Tips for Meetings #3. Have a process for tabling unanswered questions or topics for future meetings.

Some groups choose to have a “parking lot,” a chart paper stand or bulletin board to post questions, concerns and ideas. If participants raise issues outside the agenda, write them down and place them in the parking lot. Some of these questions might call for another meeting, but many more may need an email or short one-on-one discussion.

4. Keep meetings energetic and lively.

Is it a board meeting or a bored meeting? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Great tips for meetings means keep up the energy level at a meeting through several tactics. First, skip the donuts at the snack table. Stock up with energy foods like protein, vegetables and water instead. Second, include regular movement by having participants summarize presentations with partners, changing seats after breaks or getting up for gallery walks after brainstorming activities.

5. Develop a process for decision-making.

Sometimes meetings drag on and on because the moderator tries to get everyone at the table on the same page. The group should decide on a decision-making process at the outset of the meeting to cut down on needless conferring later on.

6. Be punctual.

This means starting on time and stopping on time. Google famously projects a timer on the wall during meetings that counts down to the meeting’s end. Punctuality also shows respect to the meeting participants. Their time has value as well and you honor their sacrifice of time at the meeting by starting and stopping on time.

7. Choose your participants wisely.

This is another idea from Google. Basically, if participants can’t offer advice to a meeting, they shouldn’t be there in the first place. Too often, we include people in meetings who have no stake in the outcome. We have just wasted that person’s time and unnecessarily changed the dynamic of the meeting.

You can’t avoid all meetings, but you can make your meeting time more productive, more valuable and more engaging for everyone involved. Following this 7 tips for meetings, maybe your next meeting will be memorable…

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