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10 Rules for Productive and Effective Meetings

Updated: May 6, 2019

Productive meetings are often difficult to achieve. Business meetings extends in an unproductive way. It is easy for business partners and associates to turn meetings into a social one. Often, participants walk away wondering if anything was accomplished. As the initiator of the meeting, it is your responsibility to make sure it is productive and time efficient. Having productive meetings increases the likelihood of successfully achieving a business improvement. There is a methodology to have productive meetings. 

Here are ten important meeting rules to maximize productivity and efficiency.  

1. USE AGENDAS - It may seem like an obvious requirement, but a lot of meetings start with no clear sense of purpose. Each meeting must have an agenda. It should be sent to participants in advance of the meeting. The agenda provides a guide for the conversation, so the meeting can get back on track if the discussion wanders off course. 

If leaders make sure there is an agenda before a meeting starts, everyone will fall in line quickly as they desire.  If not prepared prior to the meeting, use the first five or ten minutes at the start of the meeting to create one. Your meeting agenda should be specific cohesive. Set a specific time for each activity. Include short opening and closing talk, time to hear reactions or suggestions from the attendees, and a short open discussion. Have a deadline for each topic or activity.

2. LIMIT THE NUMBER of ATTENDEES - It is easier to keep the meeting focused and productive with a smaller number of people attending. It is also easier to organize the meeting with fewer schedules to match.. 

3. SEND A REMINDER BEFORE THE MEETING - The pre-meeting reminder is an important factor of productive and efficient meetings. It should include the agenda, topics for discussion, list of attendees, and the time, date, and location of the meeting. Also attach relevant documents. Sending the reminder with an email will prepare all the attendees for the meeting. They will know what to expect and come into the meeting prepared. This also allows attendees to raise suggestions or other topics that need to be included in the meeting.

4. TAKE MINUTES - It is important to have someone to write down the minutes of the meeting. Keeping records of the discussion, decision and action items is an important aspect of business meetings. The leader of the meeting will be responsible for the formal minutes and sending it to the attendees.

5. MAKE IT SHORT - If everything is prepared and everyone attending is aware and ready, full business meetings can be as short as 15 minutes. Shorter meetings are more productive. It forces people to stay on the topic. Your busy business partners are more likely to attend shorter meetings and will appreciate your consideration of their schedule.

6. ENSURE THE DISCUSSION YIELDS RESULTS - A truly bad meeting can unfold according to two extremes: Everyone pretends that each other's ideas are all great, or no one is willing to agree to anything.

Don't foster a feeling of groupthink. Even if you like one of your colleague's ideas, feel free to play devil's advocate to see if they can defend their plan, revealing whether they've thought it all the way through and are ready to deal with potential hurdles.

On the other hand, if everyone is frustrated and arguing, step in and clarify where everyone is in agreement. Work toward agreement on the most important topics and accept that there are some on which things certain parties will never see eye-to-eye. Many times, the issues of disagreement in a chaotic meeting aren't even relevant to the purpose of the meeting, and so it is worth having the team make a list of their concerns that are not pertinent, for the purpose of later discussion.

7. PARK NEW TOPICS NOT ON THE AGENDA - New topics are most like to crop up during meetings. These can be relevant to the agenda or totally non-business related. Regardless of its relevance, avoid discussing topics that are not on the agenda. The proper way to handle relevant and important issues is to use the parking-lot method. Take note of the issue, assign action items to it, and schedule another meeting to discuss it further.

8. SEND MINUTES TO ALL ATTENDEES - The minutes of the meeting is a detailed documentation of everything that happened and discussed in the meeting. Every business meeting should be documented. The secretary or the initiator of the meeting should type up the minutes of the meeting. It should be emailed or mailed out to the attendees for confirmation. Attendees can react or email back to correct any error or misunderstanding in the minutes. The non-reaction of attendees to the sent minutes of the meeting can be construed as agreement with all that was recorded. Send out the minutes soon after the meeting, ideally within the next business day.

9. HAVE FEWER MEETINGS - Many people hate meetings because there are just too many in their schedule. Consider the results of each of the meeting. If you're a junior-level employee and feel that too much of your time is spent in meetings that lead nowhere, meet with your manager and see if there is a way to improve your team's workflow through the reduction of recurring meetings.

If you're senior-level, take a look at your schedule and see if one of your employees is better suited to attending a particular meeting for you and reporting back.

10. USE MEETING MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE - Using software can make it easy to manage all aspects of the meetings. Technology can help you make your meetings more productive. You can plan, create agenda, invite attendees, record notes, decisions and action items into one central system which allows managers gain insights about the meetings.

Don’t forget that meetings should not be a painful obligation, but rather an opportunity to collaborate and make the most of your job. imeetingz.com

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