Running an Effective Meeting

Joe Weinlick
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Business meetings take up a lot of time, but they aren't always productive. If you manage several people, you need to know how to run meetings that get the point across without boring people or taking too much time. Follow these tips for running effective meetings that people actually want to attend.

Always Have an Agenda

A lot of business meetings run over their allotted time because participants keep bringing up new topics. Nip this problem in the bud by creating an agenda for every meeting you hold. The agenda should state the purpose of the meeting and outline the topics you plan to discuss. Distribute printed or electronic copies of the agenda ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect.

Keep Track of Time

The effectiveness of a business meeting is determined by how much you accomplish, not how much time you spend in a meeting room. If you set a time limit before the meeting, use a countdown clock to keep track of how much time you have left. Better yet, time each speaker so no one runs over the allotted amount of time for each topic.

Limit Technology

Business meetings aren't always exciting, but that doesn't mean participants should be texting friends or playing games on their tablets. Before a meeting starts, ask everyone to shut off their devices. If participants need to be available to clients or vendors, ask that they put their cell phones on silent. Avoid interruptions by asking participants to step out of the room if they need to take important calls.

Try Standing

Sitting down during a meeting makes it easy to lose focus when someone is speaking. Some people even fall asleep after sitting in the same position for a long time. If you want people to stay alert, try having business meetings with everyone standing. Participants tend to waste less time during standing meetings, increasing productivity and making business meetings more useful.

Block Out Distractions

Make your meetings as productive as possible by holding them in a quiet room. It's difficult for participants to concentrate if they have to shout over traffic noise, copy machines or other distractions. If you don't have a dedicated conference room, look for a quiet space that affords you some privacy.

Be Prepared

Meetings aren't as effective if participants have to keep running back to their offices for slides or outlines. Run effective meetings by encouraging everyone to come prepared. If participants need to review data before a meeting, make sure you distribute the data well in advance. Try to have a supply of pens and notepads on hand so people don't have to leave the meeting room to get their own supplies.

With a little planning, it's possible to lead productive business meetings that aren't a waste of time and resources. If you need help improving productivity, follow these tips to keep everyone on task.

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