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7 tips for effective meetings

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

It’s very tempting to do away with meetings altogether – having sat in many ineffective meetings I thought it might be useful to provide some tips on how to have more effective meetings.  So here they are…

Have  a purpose for the meeting – If the issue can be handled without meeting, most people will not argue about avoiding having to meet.  Unnecessary meetings cause frustration and slow progress.  If people agree a meeting is necessary, they are more likely to come prepared to accomplish something.  Having a clear purpose for the meeting also stops the meeting getting distracted by other business not related to the actual meeting purpose.

Establish an objective – The meeting will be more successful if before the meeting begins you discuss what you hope to achieve from the meeting – the outcomes anticipated around the purpose. Ask the question, “What do we need to accomplish in the meeting for it to be successful?”  Working towards a defined objective will help keep the meeting headed in the right direction and stay on purpose.

Invite the right people – Not every meeting needs to involve every person on the team.  Decide who needs to be at the meeting and invite the appropriate people.  Those without a defined purpose will tend to drag the meeting away from its purpose and leaves them frustrated.  As a leader, try to ask yourself the question “Do I need to be there?” when you are considering attending a meeting.  Sometimes one person from a team can attend the meeting, rather than the whole department or team group.

Decide on a time limit and frequency – Many people get very bored or distracted after an hour or so.  As a rule, pursue shorter rather than longer and less frequent rather than more frequent meetings.  If you are attracting leaders to your organization, they will want meetings to be kept to a minimum as much as possible.  Try to keep most meetings below 2 hours if possible, and no more than 3 hours without a sizeable break in the meeting for rest, exercise or other distraction so that people can recharge.

Set a clear agenda – The meeting should be purposeful, but not too tightly controlled by time.   Be sure to allow adequate time for brainstorming, questions and the necessary social interactions, which happen with healthy teams.   Move through the agenda in order to keep the meeting flowing, and to make sure you actually reach the outcome(s) desired for the meeting.

Give adequate notice – This will not always be possible, but people who like to be prepared, have introverted tendencies, or are highly organized will give better participation if they are given enough time to prepare for the meeting.

Plan to start and end on time – People will be less hesitant about attending your meetings if they know their time will not be abused.

Adapted from an article by Ron Edmondson

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