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June 13, 2010

What? Another Meeting?

If having a meeting is truly the only way to accomplish what you are looking to accomplish, then make sure your meetings are effective and efficient.

Meetings are often significant sources of time waste. Here are 10 tips for conducting more effective meetings.

1. Clarify the purpose of the meeting.

What do you want to accomplish by having the meeting and why do you want to accomplish it?

2. Seriously consider alternative methods for accomplishing your purpose.

Is this meeting really necessary? Can your objective be accomplished with a memo or an e-mail? Would one-on-one conversations be more effective? Since meetings have become such a serious waste of time in many organizations, look for ways to avoid having a meeting, if at all possible.

3. Invite the appropriate people.

Are the right people invited to this meeting? Is anyone coming to this meeting that does not need to be there?

4. Conduct adequate premeeting planning.

What needs to happen before the meeting begins? For example, can materials be sent to the attendees prior to the meeting to facilitate more effective and efficient interactions during the meeting?

5. Carefully control the time used during the meeting.

As a meeting leader, develop a reputation for being ruthless about avoiding time waste. Start on time! Give attendees a specific ending time and stick to it!

6. Use headlining techniques.

Communicate during the meetings by asking everyone to use headlining techniques to prevent or minimize rambling dialogue. Whenever possible, ask people to begin their comments or responses by headlining – stating clearly in 10 words or less – the essence of what they plan to talk about.

7. Use the pause and debrief method to generate purposeful discussion.

Headline the issue to be discussed and ask everyone to pause for a minute or two and jot down their thoughts related to the issue. Then debrief the group in a manner that will facilitate the full participation of all members of the meeting group. For example, call on the less vocal attendees first and protect them from premature criticism from the dominant, outspoken attendees. As meeting leader, if you plan to comment, save your comments for last.

8. Use the “Parking Lot” technique to prevent excessive rambling or off-topic discussions.

Use a flip chart or separate pad of paper to record off-topic items. In effect, park these issues elsewhere until after the meeting, along with follow-up items or any other items that would be better addressed outside the meeting.

9. Establish some form of “After-Action Follow-up”.

Have a recorder present to take notes and distribute to the attendees. Establish a clear plan for what happens next, if anything. Assign ownership and set deadlines for any follow-up items.

10. Evaluate the success of your meeting and make any appropriate adjustments before you conduct another meeting.

Good Luck and have Positively Productive Meetings!

Taken from the GO System training course, written by Chris Crouch.

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