It is an unfortunate fact that the average business meeting is typically characterized by words such as "boring," "long" and "unproductive." While meetings are an essential element of every business, the art of developing better meetings is often overlooked due to the hectic nature of modern business culture. Below are four simple tips to help you schedule better and more productive meetings.
1. Develop a clearly defined agenda.
Productive meetings are a by-product of intentional forethought and thorough planning, and the agenda is perhaps the most important element of the planning process. Many meetings suffer from a lack of clear-cut objectives, which makes it much more difficult to determine whether or not anything is actually being accomplished. The more time you spend on the front end crafting a concise and laser-focused agenda, the more time you'll save your meeting participants on the back end. Better meetings start with a well-thought-out agenda that includes the primary discussion topics, a list of presenters for each topic and the allotted time frames to cover each item on the agenda. In addition, be sure to provide each meeting participant with an agenda beforehand to eliminate any guesswork.
2. Less is more.
Longer meetings do not always result in better meetings. According to a study highlighted by Inc.com, there is generally little to no correlation between the amount of time worked and productivity. There is no need to burn up an hour on what can be accomplished in 30 minutes. Meetings have an uncanny way of expanding or shrinking to fit whatever time frame you establish, so it's always better to shorten your meeting time frames whenever possible. Shorter meetings tend to encourage a greater level of focus from participants due to the perceived scarcity of time. They also force participants to place a greater value on the actual "meat" of the meeting instead of wasting time with idle or off-topic chatter. To ensure a better meeting experience for all, stick to the bare essentials whenever possible.
3. Start on time.
Punctuality is absolutely vital to ensure a meeting is productive. When you make it a point to start your meetings on time, your promptness communicates the message that you treat your meetings seriously. It makes no sense to punish those who are punctual by allowing the stragglers to determine what time your meeting will begin.
4. Develop action items from the meeting.
Action items are essential to having better meetings. Any time new ideas are introduced or certain areas of the business require more attention, assign action items to address those issues. Key phrases such as "Maybe we should try..." or "We need to follow up on..." should trigger some type of follow-up action item, whether it means carrying out a certain task to completion or scheduling another meeting to devote more time and thought to the issue. In order to conduct better meetings, the importance of establishing clear and specific roadmaps and action items for each agenda item simply cannot be overstated.
The art of conducting better meetings largely depends upon the amount of time and effort you are willing to invest in planning and preparation. With the above tips as your guide, you will be well on your way to a experiencing a higher level of productivity in your meetings.
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