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Leadership spotlight: How to make meetings worthwhile

Originally Published:
Oct 2016

Whether you’re the leader of a meeting or an attendee, you can take steps to make the experience more productive and useful. Here’s a roundup of tips and advice that will help.

From the ebook:

A quick survey of Amazon.com reveals hundreds of books purporting to help manage meetings. The vast majority do, in fact, contain good ideas if you initiated the meeting, have the ability to set its agenda, and possess the social skills to keep all the attendees focused. However, we all must occasionally attend meetings we do not control. What do we do in those meetings, especially when they go awry? The following tips will help you make each meeting an effective, interesting experience.

Know why the organizer called the meeting
The idea of a meeting agenda seems almost quaint in this era of too much email and not enough time. When an actual agenda makes an appearance, it quickly breaks down as participants meander in a variety of unplanned directions.

Do not wait for an agenda. Instead, take a moment to contact the meeting organizer before the meeting. Ask them to explain to you, in 10 words or less, what they want from the meeting. Once you know what they want, you can help them achieve it.

In this case, forewarned is forearmed.

Know what you want from the meeting
Finding out what the meeting organizer wants allows you to help them; knowing what you want from the meeting allows you to help yourself. So before the meeting begins, set yourself one action item you absolutely need to accomplish with this group of people at this time.

Select an action item compatible with the meeting organizer’s goal if you want the meeting to succeed. Otherwise, you could end up with a reputation for disrupting meetings.

Whether that’s bad depends on your point of view.

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