How to get the Most Out of Meetings
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Meetings, like death and taxes, are an inevitable fact of business life. Many, unfortunately, turn out to be a huge waste of time.

Instead of generating ideas, engagement and commitment, meetings often zap team members’ energy, replacing it with apathy and boredom.

What can you do to ensure your meetings are productive and useful – not just socially satisfying?

Meeting Functions

  • A meeting defines the team, group or department. It specifies a purpose, outlines steps to achieve goals and identifies desired outcomes. Attendees gain a sense of identity and belonging.
  • Participants share knowledge, add to each other’s experiences, and pool their strengths to produce better ideas and plans.
  • A focused, productive meeting affirms participants’ commitment to decisions and objectives. Well-prepared leaders are catalysts for engagement, energy and enthusiasm.
  • Meetings pose opportunities for team members and leaders to demonstrate strengths, talents and collaborative abilities.

Avoid Meeting Failure

Unless you’re very clear about specific goals, you run the risk of wasting everyone’s time. A meeting should have at least one of four key objectives:

  • Informational. If the purpose is purely factual, consider a more streamlined approach to disseminating information.
  • Constructive and creative. Meetings are ideal for brainstorming and developing better processes.
  • Clarifying. Meetings are often necessary when people are confused about their roles, responsibilities, collaboration and commitments.
  • Legislative. Consider a meeting when you need to establish frameworks for rules, routines and procedures.

Prepare an Agenda

A finely tuned agenda allows you to outline your expectations and objectives. It can also speed up a meeting (unless, of course, the agenda is too brief or vague).

The following tips will help you plan your agenda:

  • The early part of a meeting tends to have more energy and can be the most creative. Put items requiring more mental energy and ideas at the top of the agenda.
  • Some agenda items will unite committee members, while others may divide them into factions with conflicting opinions. It’s often smart to end on an item that will be unifying.
  • Dwelling too long on trivial items is a common error. Deal with the more urgent long-term issues at the beginning of the meeting.
  • Limit the meeting’s length, and state the stop time on the agenda. Start and end on time. If you schedule your meeting right before lunch or quitting time, people may be more motivated to stick to the agenda.
  • Whenever possible, circulate background information on key issues in advance so participants are prepared and well informed. Keep these papers brief or people won’t read them.
  • Identify all agenda items before the meeting. If you allow people to add “other business,” you’ve essentially issued an invitation to waste time. You can, however, structure time for discussion before the meeting’s close.

The Leader’s Job

Some people believe their role as meeting leader gives them a license to dominate, while others approach the job as “schoolteacher” or “scoutmaster.” Committing any of these meeting “crimes” guarantees you’ll turn off – even offend – attendees.

In reality, the chair should be more servant than master, judiciously dealing with the two key components of successful meetings: topics and attendees.

Dealing with Topics

Clearly state the meeting’s goal at the outset.

  • Stick to the defined topics
  • Have the required information
  • Understand the issues

Know when to close a discussion and move on. Perhaps a topic cannot be resolved because more facts are required, other people need to be present, more time is needed or issues can be settled outside the meeting. Provide a clear, brief summary before adjourning. Reiterate action steps and attendees’ specific commitments.

Dealing with Attendees

There will always be people who dominate meetings, while others remain passive and silent. Encourage a clash of ideas, but not a clash of personalities.

Reframe complaints as challenges or opportunities for improvement. Use humor appropriately, and keep the discussion moving toward its objectives.

Above all, don’t allow energy to fizzle. Seize opportunities to inspire people with questions and challenges.

I can help you organize and run meetings that are productive and focused. I have a few spots available for coaching in December. Call me right now.

Let's Talk!

Call me today (949) 721-5732 to schedule a 30 minutes consultation.

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Moty Koppes is a certified master coach providing you with personal development, life coaching, relationship coaching, communication skills, personal power, life balance, career coaching, productivity enhancement, executive coaching and stress reduction in Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California.