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Smart tips to make meetings productive

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Many people find meetings to be nothing more than gatherings where endless cups of coffee and snacks are consumed, but the real purpose is not achieved. If you too have been privy to such directionless meetings, here are some tips to ensure that the next time, your meeting is bang on target and you get done what you have planned to:

  • Define the purpose and objectives: Since there could be various reasons of organizing a meeting such as decision-making, planning/visioning, problem solving, team building, information sharing, evaluating or tracking a process or program etc, it becomes important to define the purpose and objective of the meeting at the onset to give it a direction.
  • Set agenda and roles: As the famous adage goes: If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail, a meeting can go off course without a clear agenda. Apart from providing the focusing framework for a meeting, an agenda also sets out a logical time-frame and order, in addition to offering an outline that helps in writing the summary at the end of the meeting. Also it is mission critical to assign roles for participants like facilitator, leader, recorder, participant etc.
  • Select the right location: When searching a location to hold your meeting, you need to give due consideration to several factors like the size of the room, level of comfort, accessibility, availability of the necessary equipment, adequate parking, etc.
  • Establish priorities and ground rules: From a list of needs, a meeting needs to have a priority level assigned to the most urgent/critical ones to help the decision makers reach a solution or a desired objective. There shall be set rules that reiterate common sense as not receiving/ making calls during the meeting, listening to ideas without being judgmental, not interrupting the speaker etc.
  • Special considerations: For meetings via webinars, telephone/ video-conferences, special considerations should be made before and during the meeting to facilitate a seamless show. For instance, before the meeting, special arrangements should be made for the delivery of meeting materials, and ensure that all participants know how to gain access to the meeting etc.
  • Seeking feedback from participants: At the end of a meeting, collecting feedback from participants on how well they thought the meeting went can be used to make future meetings more productive. The facilitator can use an evaluation form to be filled by the participants.
  • The follow-up step: Within two weeks of the meeting, a short meeting summary document should be drafted, if possible. This should contain, at the least, the action items and next steps, including responsible parties and due dates. A more formal summary report can be drafter soon after which could include main points of discussion, background information, and answers to questions asked by the participants.

Meetings are a way of life for many organizations. Therefore, it becomes important to make them as productive as possible to ensure that your organizational productivity is given a boost.

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