5 Tips for Better Meetings

Lets face it, we all have been the victim of meetings that, for several reasons or another, just felt like they were a waste of time, took too long to get the point, or could have been done over an email. Meetings are an important part of what we do. And like everything else, need to be planned for to maximize their effectiveness. In this post I will share 5 things to remember when holding a meeting. They have helped me make my meetings more productive and I know they will help you.

  1.  Plan Ahead

The first thing I do when planning a meeting is create an agenda. In this agenda I mark out the topics I want to cover and set a time frame for the meeting. A mistake I see far too often is that people load the meeting up to the last minute with things they want to talk about. Remember that other people are going to attend and may wish to add something to the agenda, so I recommend sending the agenda out before the meeting. This allows others the chance to add new items, but inevitably someone will bring something up that is not on the agenda so I leave time in my meeting to allow for this.

  1. Take Good Notes

The second thing to remember when holding a meeting is to take good notes. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to sit in a meeting, come up with a consensus, only to see at the next meeting what was agreed upon last time was not written down and is either glossed over or misinterpreted. It is very unprofessional and damages your credibility. So take good notes.

  1. Communicate

Third goes hand in hand with the second. A good meeting should end with good notes. These notes should then be communicated with the other members of the meeting. This document should cover all the topics that were discussed and any discussions, action items, and assignments along with due dates to all involved.

  1. Time is Precious

The fourth thing to remember when holding a meeting is that time is a precious resource. Try to make your meetings as short as possible while still giving yourself enough time to cover all the points. If your meeting has to be long, be considerate and offer refreshments and/or lunch. Food is a great calmer and allows for a much needed break in long meetings.

  1. Keep on Task

Last but of course not least, remember that as the leader of the meeting, it is your job to keep the meeting going and actually accomplish its goals. Follow your agenda and if you run into a roadblock on an issue, table it and come back to it at a later date. Remember, no one enjoys a stale meeting so keep it moving along.

I hope these tips have helped you better plan your next meeting. Remember to tell us your meeting horror stories or successes in the comments below.

Steve leads the Learning & Professional Development team, with over a decade of Instructional Design and professional development experience in higher education at Northern Arizona University.

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