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An Agenda Helps Keep Your Meetings Short
Meetings could be considered a necessary evil of the everyday work life. A poorly organized meeting will not only be a huge time waster, but can also ruin your credibility with your coworkers. It is vitally important that you learn the basics of conducting a short and well organized meeting.
The single most important thing for you to do before a meeting is to develop an agenda. A meeting without an agenda is pure and utter chaos. Nothing will ever get resolved and the meeting will drag on forever. An agenda is like a road map to guide everyone to the correct destination. Do not even consider conducting a meeting without one.
When you are preparing your agenda, identify the aim of your meeting. Clearly state the focus of the meeting on the agenda. Then list each item to be discussed in order of importance. Give a time limit to each item and list the expected outcome. Distribute the agenda one week before the meeting. Confirm that everyone attending has all the information that they need and the presenters are clear on how much time they are allotted. While circulating the agenda, state that the meeting will start on time and end on time.
A couple of hours before the meeting is to begin, send an email to everyone who is attending your meeting. State the starting time of the meeting, the location and the ending time of the meeting. This is so that no one will have an excuse for being late, or worse, forgetting that they have a meeting to attend.
On the meeting day, rehearse your presentation. Arrive early and confirm that everything needed is in place such as, chairs, whiteboard and markers, copies of handouts, coffee etc. Try not to give all the handouts at the beginning of the meeting, as people tend to read the handouts and ignore the speakers.
The best setup for a meeting is a round table where everyone can face each other. This will encourage participation and discourage slacking or dozing off.
Start on time. Move the meeting along according to the agenda. If someone tries to derail the agenda by longwinded comments, be assertive and get the meeting back on track. Offer to meet with that person on a one to one basis if needed to keep the meeting flowing.
If an item on the agenda is not getting resolved in a timely manner, move to chair the item and plan to resolve it at another time. This will help keep the meeting moving along.
When presenting, stick to the time allotted on the agenda. Say what you need to say in short straightforward sentences. Answer questions with the shortest answer possible to get your point across and move on. Most people love to hear themselves talk. Resist the temptation to elaborate on every point you make just to hear the sound of your own voice.
End your meeting on time. If all of the issues are not resolved, take note and follow up at a later meeting or through personal contacts. With the right agenda, your meeting can be kept short and to the point.
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