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TOP TIPS for more productive meetings

Business meetings need to be as productive as possible. Wasted time cost money and issues left unresolved can put a downer on morale, or slow up the workings of your business. Here are some ways to avoid time wasting at meetings:
  • Clear agenda's must be set and followed. Timescales need to be rigid.
  • Use an authoritative person to chair the meeting Someone who will keep meeting on topic and on time.
  • Meetings are for information dissemination, agreements, and outcomes. Chit-chat or gossip must not dominate proceedings or delay the start of the real discussion in hand.
  • Choose a convenient, suitable, and comfortable location. When meeting with people from outside your company try to establish a preference to come to you or you go to them. For regular meetings with them, agree to alternate or choose a completely neutral, halfway location.
  • Be very clear about the time and location. Remind regularly, it's easy to get distracted and have the meeting slip the mind of busy employees.
  • Distribute the agenda and any accompanying background/reading materials early, making enough reading time is allowed but not so much as it's forgotten by the time the meeting commences.
  • Send confirmation a few days before as a reminder. Those who can't make it also have an opportunity to make an apology.
  • Don't miss inviting anyone who needs to be there or have input. Avoid taking too many questions away for answering if this happens, it's a clear indication the right people have not been found for the meeting. Learn from this for the next time.
  • Let meeting attendees know if they are empowered to make decisions or are just there to contribute to the discussion. If decisions need to be made, have the right people in the room.
  • If discussing a controversial topic, have individual discussions with key players before the meeting sound out views and have time to consider and prepare responses. This may also alleviate any surprise input at the meeting.
  • Ensure all agenda items are covered.
  • Minute taking can be replaced by action points? Each action is assigned an agreed owner, deliverable and time scale before moving on to the next point. Follow up meetings on these action points will form a key part of the agenda.
  • You'll also need to decide who monitors the action points and sees they are being completed as agreed.
  • Communicate all outcomes to all attendees.
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