Scheduling Better and More Productive Meetings

Michele Warg
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For many professionals, meetings are a significant time sink, and they often come without discernible rewards. As an administrative professional, you can improve the company's daily workflow by revamping the meeting process. With more productive meetings, you and your colleagues can reduce frustration and wasted time.

When it comes to professional meetings, efficiency is the greatest challenge. Without a firm structure, it is all too easy to get off track with a single topic that may not require the attention of the full group. As a result, other employees can feel ignored or irritated. When you develop a tradition of productive meetings, it reduces stress and communicates that you value each person's time.

In many companies, meetings are general-attendance events. Productive meetings, on the other hand, involve only the necessary people. Before you schedule a meeting, consider the topic and invite only the people who need to be present. In doing so, you'll reduce the amount of unnecessary input.

One of the most important steps in scheduling more productive meetings is to create a meeting agenda. In the days or hours leading up to the meeting, send out an email to colleagues asking for specific discussion items to add to the agenda. Instead of saying, "Discuss Project X," a colleague should write, "Explain changes to the Project X timeline and discuss adjustments to the interdependencies with the shipping and advertising teams." Using the input from your colleagues, create a meeting agenda and send it out before the meeting. That way, attendees can prepare questions and comments ahead of time.

For many administrative professionals, creating the agenda is a breeze; sticking to the predetermined topics takes more work. To make the process go smoothly, assign each speaker a time limit and include it on the agenda to help manage colleague expectations. During the meeting, enforce the time limits firmly. If a topic needs further discussion, schedule a separate meeting for the involved parties.

If you don't feel comfortable with agenda enforcement, assign a leader for each meeting. Choose someone who is confident and respected by the group and will not be afraid to stop the discussion when it's time to move on to a new topic. The leader should abide by the agenda and cut off all extraneous conversations before they become a problem. When chosen effectively, a leader can be a significant contributor to more productive meetings.

Business Insider suggests that, as the meeting comes to an end, you go around the room and ask each attendee to state their individual action steps moving forward. Each response should be short and concise: "I'm going to verify the delivery date and send the HTML code to colleague B." This small step keeps everyone accountable and reduces the chance that important tasks will go missing.

For many companies, switching to more productive meetings can be a painful process. By sticking to your schedule and enforcing new meeting rules, however, you can help develop a more effective and efficient meeting process.


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