It seems everyone dislikes meetings - except when it is your turn to call one. Your job is to keep the meeting focused and make it as valuable as possible to the attendees. Here are the six tips to help you.


Tip 1. Start with the end in mind

To make sure you get the most out of your meetings, you need to plan them wisely. First understand the purpose of the meeting. Is it for status? Is it for a decision? Is it for brainstorming? Make sure you and the attendees know the desired outcome of getting together.


Tip 2. Plan wisely

Your meeting should have an agenda that shows the flow of the meeting, the timing and how you are going to the desired outcome. This should be shared in advance with the attendees. (Regularly scheduled meeting do not need a customised agenda. They use a "standing" agenda that stays pretty much the dame from week to week.


Tip 3. Open and close thoughtfully

Open and close your meetings carefully. When you open the meeting, state the purpose of the meeting, what you want to get out of it and why it's important. This gets their attention and sets the scene. When you close the meeting, tell them what has been agreed / achieved in the meeting and the next steps going forward.


Tip 4. Control the meeting

You need to be in complete control of the meeting to ensure that:

   - The meeting follows the agenda

   - You do not get stuck on a single issue

   - One person doesn't dominate

   - Everyone can contribute as needed

Raise your voice a little to add presence. Jump in frequently when people talk too long. Be polite but strong. If possible, ask someone else to record the minutes to give you time to facilitate the meeting.


Tip 5. Park it

Often in meetings, a single issue can consume the majority of the meeting time. If the issue is not related to your specific meeting goals, tell the team to park it and move on. Record the issue on a whiteboard or paper and address it with the relevant team members separately after the meeting. This keeps your meetings short and focused.


Tip 6. Go short

Keep your meetings short so that they stay focused. You will often find that a 60 minute meeting can be easily compressed to 30 minutes. Thirty minutes keeps everyone focused. Try it. For the next 30 days do not schedule any meetings longer the 30 minutes. You might be surprised that you can still accomplish your meeting purpose.



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