Vincy Workplace
August 6, 2010
Running effective meetings

Have you ever wondered why people meet, then plan to meet again, and then again, when absolutely nothing seems to get done? Meetings are supposed to be productive and results oriented, and attendees should be held accountable in advancing toward those ends—but that doesn’t seem to happen in many businesses and government offices.{{more}} In fact, some people go to work and wander from meeting to meeting to meeting without any real work ever getting done!

Meetings should have a real, stated purpose—after all, they cost organizations revenue. If you are meeting, chances are you are not being as productive as you might be if the time was spent focusing on the right issues.

Helpful meeting tips

Prepare and use an agenda. Before calling a meeting, prepare an agenda so attendees know exactly what will be discussed. Include an agenda item for “new business” or “miscellaneous business” at the end of the agenda to address items that may come up during the meeting, then delay those discussions until that time. The secret to using an agenda? Stick to it!

Use a meeting facilitator. Appoint a facilitator who will be responsible for keeping the meeting on schedule and for minimizing or postponing sidebar conversations and tangential discussions. If meetings begin to digress into arguments or power struggles, direct the facilitator to authorize a break, then reconvene when feelings cool down.

Set a time limit.

Determine a length for each meeting and stick to the limit. If a meeting must go over the allotted time frame, ask permission of the attendees to continue and allow those who must leave to do so.

Assign “homework.” If a meeting must stretch on to another session, set clear expectations about what tasks must be done before the next meeting to keep progress on track.

Use an alternative

Decide if you can avoid a face-to-face meeting by sending around an e-mail, a newsletter, or a memo or by making a few phone calls. Check into audio or video e-mail or conference calls where and when possible. Such meetings minimize travel time and enable employees to get back to work as soon as the discussion or presentation is finished.

Avoid these petty problems that arise in meetings
Individuals trying to outtalk each other
Complaints about the food, or lack thereof
Fighting over whose seat is whose when no official seating arrangements are in use
Interrupting the speaker and causing dissention

Consistently restating “the obvious” or information that has already been said just to feel or sound important

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.” For a FREE SPECIAL REPORT on Avoiding Career Killers in the Workplace, send an email to
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