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Tips for running effective meetings

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Meetings are an important part of working life and are a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what is happening within the workplace.

But an ineffective meeting is a drain on time, resources – and your energy. How often have you endured a marathon meeting of little relevance or worth, silently wishing yourself somewhere else. Anywhere.

An effective meeting is nothing without planning, so by following the tips below, and encouraging co-workers to do the same, meetings should run smoothly and effectively, providing an encouraging space to share ideas.

Be prepared

Email an agenda 24 hours in advance:

An agenda lets everyone knows what is going to be discussed in the meeting so they can properly prepare themselves for presentations and story pitches.

Even suggestions for their co-workers stories are great to have on hand, because there are often aspects they may not have thought of themselves.

Bring paper and a pen:

This may sound basic, but having the option to write down all the important things discussed during the meeting is great. And it saves you the trouble of having to remember everything later.

Arrive 5 minutes early:

Arrive early so that you can set up your things, settle into your seat and collect your thoughts before the meeting begins.

This can also allow others to do the same — and can even send a signal to someone who is running late for the meeting to get a move on into the meeting.

Come prepared:

It can help to prepare for your meeting by getting everything ready the night before or even before you leave work the previous day.

That way, everything you need is there, ready for you to take to the meeting and ensures you’ll be able to concentrate on the important points.

Start and end on time:

This is important because without keeping to the designated start and finish, meetings have the potential to creep over their time slots, throwing out the schedule for the rest of the day.

Ensuring somebody keeps an eye on the clock can also help you keep track of the meeting, and how long each topic is being discussed.

Follow-up by email within 24 hours:

Sending out a follow-up email helps to keep track of where everyone is on their story or project, is aware of any actions decided on – and their role in them — and helps make sure everyone is still on the same page after the meeting.

Concentration is key

No smartphones:

We use them enough as it is, so surely you can go the length of a meeting without using it. Plus, it’s a bit rude to keep checking your phone while someone is talking. So stop and turn it off, at least during the meeting.

But if you are expecting a REALLY important call, let everyone know so that they don’t think you’re being rude by leaving half way through the meeting.

No interrupting:

If you wouldn’t like to be interrupted mid sentence, then don’t do it to others. Even though what you have to say is clearly WAAAY more important than what the person talking is saying.

If you really need to interject, raise a hand or indicate politely that you want to say something, otherwise wait until questions are called for.

No side conversations or comments:

If you can’t share it with the room, then shhhhhhh! Besides, if you are talking to the person next to you about your weekend away, then you aren’t concentrating on what is being discussed in the meeting and you both might miss something important… like if you’re getting a pay-rise.

Sharing is caring

Share all relevant data:

No point is ever too small. Even if you can’t quite see how it fits into your story, someone else might. So if you feel strongly about it and you think it is important, mention it. If not, then put it aside for the time being.

This also applies to suggestions you might have for a co-workers story, because you might know something about the topic that they don’t.

Stay on topic:

Don’t stray from the topic at hand. It may help to have a checklist or dot points of what is/needs to be discussed during the meeting, but don’t stray off and talk about how adorable your cat is.

Be brief and concise:

While people want to know what your project is about, they also don’t want to be in a meeting forever. So tell them your story, but maybe just in a few dot points, that cover everything you want to include.

Silence= agreement:

Silence is your way of saying ‘yes’ without actually saying ‘yes’. So if you disagree with something that someone says, speak up. There is nothing wrong with voicing your opinion or saying that you don’t agree.

Disagree without being disagreeable:

Additionally, it is possible to disagree with someone on a point without being harsh or suggesting they’re wrong.

Perhaps what you can do is offer an alternate solution/idea to whatever they presented. But don’t make it seem like your solution/idea is the only one to go with.

Challenge ideas rather than people:

Challenging ideas does not mean challenging authority (or anyone else for that matter).

If you have a different idea about the workplace or a project someone is working on, feel free to say it: but make sure you are challenging the idea and not the person. Basically, don’t imply that you could do things better.

Everyone participates:

There is no point in attending a meeting if you’re not going to participate. You were hired for a reason and it includes participation.

Even if you are an assistant, your boss or supervisor may ask you what you think about what has been presented. Everyone’s opinion is valid and everyone has a right to be heard.

Meetings are a great way to hear everyone’s voice and are a place where they should be free to exchange ideas freely and without interruption or discouragement. Because no voice or idea is too small to be spoken or heard.

effective meetings

 

About Jolie Chantharath

Jolie Chantharath is an intern for The Business Woman, currently studying a Diploma in Project Management and freelances in filmmaking and screenwriting.

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