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How to improve your meetings


At one time or another, we’ve all attended a bad meeting. Either we didn’t know why we were there, we didn’t know what it was really about, or we left the meeting unsure of what to do next. (Sometimes it’s all three!) This article has six simple tips on how to turn all of that around.

1. Do you need to be in this meeting?

If your schedule is so clogged up with meetings that it’s impeding your work, you may need to look at your processes. A lot of time, meetings are used inappropriately; to keep everyone informed of everything. Instead, could one of the must-attendees represent your viewpoint and give you the truncated meeting notes?

2. Have an agenda

Every meeting should have a clear agenda. If it’s a large agenda with many goals, there should be an agenda with specific topics to be covered and required outcomes. Next to each topic, include the person who should be involved in the discussion and final decision. If people need to prepare in advance, make sure they know this and time to prepare. Preferably, send them the agenda.

3. Respect the start/end times

If you want to make the most of your meeting, everyone should arrive promptly. If one person doesn’t do this, they’re wasting the time of others. Similarly, don’t take advantage of other people's’ times by allowing the meeting to run late. Be realistic about how much time you need to make to cover the topics in this meeting and get through them. Don’t be afraid to do time checks and let everyone know how long is left on the clock.

4. Prioritize the tasks

The tasks on your agenda (whether written down or mentally noted) should be organized: most important comes first. The start of the meeting is when everyone’s minds are freshest. Plus, if the dialogue lasts longer than you thought, you’ll have spent your time in the most valuable place.

5. Assign responsibility

By the time you’re all filing out of the room, everyone should have a clear idea of the tasks assigned to them and when those tasks are due. As each agenda item is ticked off and assigned during the meeting, be sure to verbally summarize who’s doing what and by when.

6. Keep notes and circulate them

As you’re working your way through the agenda, be sure to take notes. If it’s a complex meeting, you’ll also need to send these out later so everyone’s clear on what was said and what they need to do now. It’s easy for things to slip through the cracks and this step adds another layer of fortification!