Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Effective meetings in a flash!

I guess that you have attended meetings and come out of them and wondered why. Many meetings are a pure waste of time. Some meetings are needed, but are executed poorly and come out with few results that have value. This article can gives you some tips on running effective meetings and creating more value of the time spent in them.

Tips on creating the Agenda

- The agenda should include why the meeting is needed, what topics will be covered.
- Create goals for the meeting, what do we expect to achieve in this meeting?
- It could be a good idea to try to create the agenda together with key people that
will attend the meeting. Try to focus on what that needs to be done to reach the defined goals.

A good agenda is a key factor to holding efficient meetings so spend time of creating them since they will improve efficiency in the meeting if created right.

Set goals for the meeting

When creating the agenda try to set some goals for the meeting. What are we trying to achieve by holding this meeting? These goals should be included on the agenda so people have a clear understanding of the purpose of the meeting. When wrapping up the meeting it could be good to communicate what goals that you have reached to create an understanding of achievement to the attendants of the meeting.

Send out the agenda prior to the meeting
This is maybe the most important thing to do to create effective meetings. People that are invited to the meeting should be able to see why they are invited and how the can contribute.
Also emphasize that people should prepare for the meeting. Sometimes it is useful to make let a key person be responsible of a topic on the agenda. Then the person will prepare on that topic and be prepared to answer questions around that topic.

Try to keep meetings short

Long meetings tend to lose energy towards the end. People just get tired and bored when they have to sit in meetings for hours. Tired people do not contribute to the meeting.

Some organizations have a policy to have meeting no longer than one hour. Others do their meetings while standing up rather than sitting down. The idea by this is that people do not feel comfortable by standing up for a long amount of time. Meetings will then often go down to less than 30 minutes.

It depends on the agenda and whom that is attending, but as a general rule meetings should not last more than one hour.

Only invite people to meetings that really needs to be there

Only invite people to the meeting that really needs to be there. The less people in a meeting the more productive it will be. Try to identify why you should invite that person to the meeting. What can he/she contribute with? Another approach is to talk to the person and explain what the meeting is about and then ask them if they want to attend.

Start on time and end on time

Start the meeting on time. Waiting for people that is late just bores the people that showed up on time. Do not start over again when a person that is late is coming in. Repeating information just bores the people that already have heard it. By always starting on time you are setting an example to other people in the organization. In the future they will try harder to get to the meeting on time.

It is also important to finish on time. If you do not have the time to go through all of the agenda you will have to postpone those items to new meeting. It is important to know that people that are attending the meeting often have other meetings or duties that they have to attend.

Send out minutes

Always have a person in the meeting that writes down main conclusions of the meeting and outcomes. This should not be the leader of the meeting, assign this job to another person. It could be a secretary or someone who do not have to contribute to the meeting but often it is possible to both contribute to the meeting as well as writing minutes.
Minutes should be sent out as soon as possible to people who attended the meeting. Allow people to add new information to the minutes of the feel so. By sending out minutes it creates a mutual understanding as well as it communicates major achievements that the meeting created.
In some cases it might be useful to send out minutes to other key personnel to inform them on what is going on and what the meeting achieved.


Running efficient meetings that reaches goals requires energetic people that contribute. Keep meetings short to keep the energy up.
Spend time on creating a good agenda. A good agenda creates understanding on what that needs to be done to achieve the goals of the meeting.
Always send out minutes from the meeting. This causes less confusion between employees after the meeting. If there is some confusion people can always turn to the meeting minutes to clarify.

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