Management
4 Keys to Effective Meetings

by Jane Schulte
Meetings are often mocked as being dull, a waste of time and inconvenient. However, an essential part of our life, meetings can be made effective through some forward planning and by following a few simple tips.
Meetings are a vital part of the organization of work and flow of information. They are sometimes mocked as being dull, a waste of time and inconvenient. When asked to attend a meeting, determine if it is worth your time. If it involves the exchange of views and the communication of current status of related projects, then you should be generous with your time. However, plan meetings around your urgent and pressing work. It is preferable not to schedule more than one or two meetings per day.
In order the maximize the effectiveness of each meeting: 
  1. Create an Agenda.  Always have an agenda and stick with it. Even if it is not your meeting, offer the host your assistance in preparing an agenda and ask for a specific start and end time. During the meeting, if an agenda item takes the group off subject, talk about the new subject briefly and then ask if it can be tabled for a follow-up meeting. Make sure all attendees receive the agenda the day before the meeting if possible so they can be prepared and not waste time reading it and coming up with additional ideas upon arrival.

  2. Keep Minutes. Identify who will keep minutes and as the meeting progresses, identify who will implement each decision that is made and who will be responsible for reporting its outcome. If no one is held accountable, the meeting is a waste of time.

  3. Prepare Minutes. Minutes or at least a summary email or memo should be prepared and sent within 24-48 hours of the meeting to all attendees. If there are no minutes taken, write your own notes and type them as soon after the meeting as possible and store them for reference at a later date. The act of typing them after the meeting while everything is fresh on your mind will ensure that you will recall everything that was discussed, even if you do not refer to the notes again.

  4. Create Agenda for next Meeting. In order to keep projects moving towards the intended goal and not stagnate, use the minutes to set up the agenda for the next meeting of items that remain unresolved and to track progress of assigned tasks.
Make the most of your meetings and you'll need fewer of them!
Jane Schulte is Executive Vice President and COO of PRISM Title & Closing Services located in Greater Cincinnati and Author of WORK SMART, Not Hard! and BOLD Leadership: A Holistic Approach to Business Success. Please visit http://www.stop-struggling.com to purchase the books and find valuable business information.
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