Conducting effective meetings

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Meetings, although necessary, can be time-consuming, ruin productivity and are a cause of frustration for many. Running effective meetings is a key managerial skill which is essential to effective decision making and execution which consequently affect business results.

Here are some ways to improve the way you conduct meetings:

Establish a clear objective
Meetings should have a clear and stated objective, with a specific end result defined. An objective for the meeting gives purpose for holding the meeting and directs the content to follow.

Include a written agenda
A written agenda ensures you cover and stick to necessary and relevant topics. Some factors to consider when writing an agenda include:

  • What are the priorities of the meeting?
  • What should the meeting accomplish?
  • What is the order of topics?
  • What topics must be covered?
  • How much time should be spent on each topic?
  • Who will lead the discussion for each topic?
  • How will off topic discussions be handled?
  • A start and end time

Review attendees
When organising a meeting, take the time to work out who really needs to attend. Inviting people who may not feel their attendance is needed or that they lack the skills or expertise to be of assistance may view their attendance as a waste of time. When creating a list of participants, link attendance to decision roles.

Manage off topic discussions
The beginning of the meeting is a good time to mention the focus of the discussion and remind attendees that other issues can be addressed at a later time. To help stick to your schedule, display the meeting agenda on a screen or whiteboard to keep people focused.

Create action items
Send participants a meeting summary reinforcing the key points of the meeting no longer than 24 hours after the meeting to ensure everyone is on the same page. Ensure attendees are informed of responsibilities, tasks and deadlines assigned and document them to avoid ambiguity.

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