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Your Clear Next Step Blog

Your Clear Next Step Blog

Meetings are the worst...

4 Meeting Must-Haves to Get It Over With

There's nothing that puts a damper on Summer fun quite like a good thunderstorm--but Summer meetings might be a close second. Vacations and out-of-office team members, combined with nice, wish-I-wasn't-stuck-at-work weather can make it challenging to have a productive meeting. We have some meeting must-haves that will keep everyone focused and make sure meetings move along so you can get out of there and enjoy your summer activities!

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The average employee is less than thrilled about going to a meeting. Of those surveyed, 46% of Americans would rather be anywhere but a meeting, and according to a study companies could be wasting around $300 million each year on ineffective meetings. Hopefully the strides we've made in technology have reduced that number slightly, but you never know what people are really doing on those conference calls...

 

 

These 4 things will help you make the most out of your meetings!

 

1. Agenda

The meeting agenda is a staple tool in our book--we don't advise meeting without one. How can a list of topics really help, you ask? Tracking agenda items/scope helps budget time accordingly to move things along, and can prevent the group from getting stuck on one topic. When sent out or published beforehand, it also gives people an opportunity to prepare -- even if they just glance at it, they might mull over a few agenda items before the meeting, instead of walking in blind.

 

2. Parking Lot

Even with an agenda, it's possible to get sidetracked or stuck on a topic. The Parking Lot is a great way to table items in the interest of getting through the rest of the meeting. If you've got time left, you can come back to them at the end of the meeting, or add them to the agenda for a future meeting. It doesn't have to be anything fancy--a flipchart or whiteboard is great, but some stickies in the corner of the table, or even a list on paper or a laptop can be just as effective. Use tools that work for your environment and your attendees.

 

3. Action Items

action-items-list-write-notebook-pencilIsn't it great when you spend three hours in a meeting, and no one does anything afterwards? Create a list of action items as they come up throughout the meeting--even if it's as simple as "Bob to send Angie Document PRQ." If you really want it to get done, each action item should have an owner and a due date. Don't hold the Action Item list hostage--send it out after the meeting, and put it somewhere everyone can get to so that no one "accidentally" deletes the email it came with.

 

4. A Good Facilitator

All these tools are swell, but it also helps to have someone to drive the bus. A lot. Facilitators should be confident and assertive without being bossy or alienate meeting participants -- their job is to keep the group moving and shut down unproductive behaviors, while making sure the entire group stays engaged and focused. Piece of cake, right? Don't worry--no one is born a great facilitator. It's a learned skill, and the more you try it, the better you'll be!

 

We hope these tips make your meetings a little less painful. Happy Meetings!

 

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About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day.


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