Ten Steps to Better Meetings

Are your meetings wearing everybody out? Of the time you invest in holding meetings, how much actually translates into profitable results? The fact is, more than 50 percent of the time spent in most meetings is completely wasted. This is true regardless of the type or size of your organization. How good are your meetings? Vistage Speaker Clark Wigley suggests using the following strategies to get the most out of your team sessions.

Be ready

Think through the purpose and objectives for the meeting. Be crystal clear on what you want to get out of the meeting — before it convenes — and how you plan to get there.

Tell them, too

Prepare people who will be there. Explain the purpose, agenda and what you expect of everyone in the meeting. Do this far enough in advance so they can prepare, too.

Get the right people in the meeting

You need three kinds of people in every meeting: those with authority, those with expertise and those who will be “doers.”

Don’t forget the logistics

Flip charts or white boards serve as the “common brain” for the meeting. If you don’t have a common brain, everyone will use his or her own. Lighting, noise control, comfortable seating and the size of the room are also important to consider. In addition, remember that task-oriented meetings that go on for more than an hour lose their effectiveness.

Set ground rules

Establish rules ahead of time. Good rules include: starting and ending on agreed times, minimizing interruptions and allowing no one to dominate the meeting.

Take minutes

Put at least three flip charts on the wall before the meeting. One is for the agenda, one is for issues that need to be discussed later, and one is to record decisions and action items made during the meeting.

Wrap-up

Make sure you reserve enough time to summarize the results, decisions and assignments. The three flip charts will come in handy for this purpose.

Publish minutes immediately

They don’t have to be detailed. Simply include highlights of the major decisions and action items, and get them out quickly (within 24 hours).

Follow up on assignments

Hold people accountable for results. Following up will also tell you if what you decided was a good idea or not.

“Tune up” your meetings

Always strive for improvement. Meetings are often doomed to mediocrity unless people work on them. Have the participants write what they don’t like about the meetings, then list their complaints on a flip chart before you begin discussing them. Flip-charting the issues gives everyone the overall perspective of what needs to be worked on.

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