10 Ideas To Get More Out Of Your Meetings

  1. Time Management, Part 1

    Start on time, regardless of the number of absent members. If you need to add some encouragement, lock the door to the room requiring late arrivals to request admittance or charge a late fee.

  2. Time Management, Part 2

    End on time. Avoid frustrating surprises like the additional topics that add an additional 10 to 15 minutes to the meeting. Not only will you keep your attendees aligned with their schedule, you will earn credibility points with them. They will respect you and have no problem attending your meetings in the future.

  3. Invite Your Attendees Via Email

    Send out advanced notice to participants. Give attendees ample time to work it into their schedule. Nothing irks participants more than having to rearrange or cancel their previously scheduled events to accommodate an emergency meeting called with 12 hours notice. Remember that constant urgencies are the result of poor planning.

  4. Use An Agenda

    Give yourself ample time to prepare the meeting. This means having an informative agenda, sending it out at least 48 hours to attendees in advance, and getting your participants’ buy-in. Items to put on your agenda include the discussion topics, time constraints, start time and date, invited attendees, necessary documentation, any minutes from past meetings and action items that the group needs to address.

  5. Always Know Your Outcome

    If you are the facilitator or you called the meeting, know the desired goal that you want the group to achieve at the end of the allotted time. It helps when you create the agenda and it helps get you back on track when off-topic discussions crop up.

  6. Keep The Meeting On Time

    One of the jobs of the facilitator is to guide the meeting in the right direction. Have questions ready to help guide your attendees to address the issues at hand and keep the meeting moving at a brisk pace. If the discussion starts to drag, you will need to have a way to get it back on pace.

  7. Setup Your Meeting Room

    Set your environment to accommodate the meeting. If you are meeting with a few people for only 5 to 10 minutes for a quick update, try using a stand-up meeting. It takes little time to setup and break down. For longer meetings, fit the environment to your meeting length. You don’t want your attendees fidgeting during a long meeting. You want them focused on the topics at hand.

  8. Eat Before The Meeting

    Use a slice of time before the meeting for refreshments and networking. But the focus of the meetings should be on the agenda, not the refreshment platter.

  9. Set Up The Next Meeting

    Always establish the time, date and place for the next meeting before you adjourn your current meeting. Part of the agenda for the next meeting will be the action items from your current meeting. Make sure you provide enough time attendees to accomplish their action items along with other projects that they are completing.

  10. Own The Backchannel

    At one time, we encouraged the “cell phone” rule requiring everyone to turn off their cell phones and blackberries to insure that we had their full attention. In today’s environment, if a participant has his or her smartphone out, they could be taking notes, accessing documentation in the cloud, or sending notes out to their audience extending your reach and influence. Before blindly implementing the “cell phone” rule, ask how you can use the backchannel to extend your reach and make additional resources available to the group.

Larry Prevost
Dale Carnegie Instructor, Social Media Evangelist
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