4 Tips to Make the Most of Meetings

Are company meetings getting you down? Do you find yourself hoping for a productive meeting but wind up stuck in a conference room for an hour (or more) wondering what the point was? Is half your day stolen away from you due to one meeting invite after another and you feel obligated to attend? Bring meaning back into meetings with these 4 tips to help make the most of them. Getting together with co-workers to make progress is possible if you implement changes that will move the needle rather than having you feeling like you're being poked in the eye with one!

1. Have a Clear-Cut Objective

What's the plan, Stan? Your meeting needs a plan and purpose. As per Forbes, "Before you send that calendar invite, ask yourself: What do I seek to accomplish?" Not only will this give a clear-cut definition of what your motives and goals are, but your attendees will come prepared with useful tools and talking points.

As Effective Meetings notes, "The more concrete your meeting objectives, the more focused your agenda will be. (Another) benefit of having specific objectives for each meeting is that you have a concrete measure against which you can evaluate that meeting."

Learn what works and what needs improvement. The next meeting and those thereafter will be more fine-tuned and worth the effort.

2. Come Prepared

Speaking of arriving well-prepared, both the meeting organizer(s) and the invitees must have adequate time and resources to best position themselves to bring well-thought out material, information, and data to the meeting in order for it to be as effective and fruitful as possible.

According to The Muse, "Figure out what you already know about the topic of the meeting, and determine if there's anything you need to research and learn beforehand. Jot down a few questions that you plan to ask in the meeting."

Without pre-planning, the meeting may not deliver the results expected. Participants who come with ammo are the ones who will collectively shoot for the stars with the most accurate aim.

3. Watch the Clock

A meeting needs a defined start and end time. There are only so many hours in a day, and people have work to do. Be sure your meeting starts promptly and is run in a fashion that allows for a resolution once the bell rings. Like Entrepreneur notes, "If you don't start your meetings on time, chances are you won't end on time. Then the next meeting starts late. Before you know it, the entire day is off schedule."

Be sure to create and stick to an organized agenda. Forbes notes, "Create an agenda that lays out everything you plan to cover in the meeting, along with a timeline that allots a certain number of minutes to each item, and email it to people in advance." Entrepreneur adds, "By sending the agenda 24 hours in advance you give people a chance to prepare and make most of the time."

By making it clear that you value and respect the time of your co-workers, they will reciprocate. This creates a harmonious workplace and a day that delivers results by closing time.

4. Follow Up

Meetings have a goal to make something happen, so you'll need to follow up to be sure all assigned tasks are underway or completed. According to Entrepreneur, "Before you end your meetings make sure you recap any immediate actions and assign them to the appropriate owners."

After the meeting, send a brief email to all participants with the meeting's highlights and takeaways. As per Meetings.org, "Meeting minutes are very helpful as a reminder to everyone of what happened during the meeting and what is meant to be done now, by whom and by what date. It is good practice to circulate the minutes as soon as possible after the meeting has taken place."

Following up will keep participants accountable and responsible for their portion of the workload and keep everyone in-the-know about the projects and plans moving forward. With proper follow-up, the meeting's initial goals will be kept in check and reached with a solidified group effort.

Now it's time to plan your next meeting that will be smoother and more successful than in the past. But before you reserve the conference room, read "Can This Meeting Be an Email" and save everyone some time.

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