Before Going Into a Meeting, Decide What You Want to Get Out

Have you ever come out of a meeting and asked yourself, “What did we just do in there?”

Perhaps, you can’t recall what the meeting was supposed to be about in the first place. Or the meeting devolved into a discussion about the boss’s latest vacation. Or maybe the meeting ended up lasting 45 minutes longer than scheduled and now your schedule is totally off for the rest of the day.

If you don’t want to come out of meetings scratching your head as to what just happened, then make sure you are clear before you begin.

Don’t Go Into Meetings Unprepared

We have all been to that meeting. The one that starts late, drones on forever about nothing, and wastes everyone’s time.

It is amazing that companies have strict expense policies that flag even the smallest amount. Yet, they allow anyone in the company to call a meeting that costs thousands of dollars in payroll. (Not to mention the lost productivity.)

How do these meetings happen? And why are they common at most companies?

They usually stem from unclear expectations. As well, from a lack of preparedness in advance of the meeting.

Meetings without a clear upfront purpose are a waste of everyone’s time.

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Second to email, meetings are one of the biggest productivity wasters in the workplace.

Yet, they don’t have to be.

With a bit of preparation and expectations, meetings can be productive, concise, and timely.

Here are some tips to Help You Get What you Want Out of Your Meetings:

  • Know the purpose – Why are you having the meeting in the first place? Is a meeting necessary? Be very clear about the purpose of the meeting before it is scheduled. In fact, the meeting “Subject” should be descriptive about the meeting’s purpose, rather than “Catchup” or “Discussion.”
  • Have an Agenda – Ensure your meeting has an agenda. It doesn’t have to be anything more than a bulleted list. But, make sure you set the topics to be covered and the decisions to be made.
  • Take Notes – Taking notes during a meeting not only makes sure you have an accurate documentation of the facts, but it also keeps you engaged during the conversation.
  • Keep it on topic – If the meeting veers off topic, bring it back to the topic at hand. Side topics and other conversations should be kept out of the current discussion.
  • End on time – Capping meetings at their scheduled time has several positive benefits. First, it encourages productive conversation. People will avoid the chit-chat if they know there is a limited time. Second, it respects all participants time and schedules.
  • Action Items – A meeting must have an outcome, whether that is a decision to be acted upon or further tasks to be completed. Before a meeting ends, spell out what steps are to be taken next and by whom.

Have Meetings with Meaning

Meetings don’t have to be time-wasters.

When scheduling a meeting be up-front about the purpose and be clear about what is to be accomplished during it.

A little meeting discipline can make your meetings have meaning and increase your team’s productivity at the same time.

Question: How do you ensure you get out of your meetings what you intended? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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