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How to hold good meetings at work (and at home!)

In our organization, I think we do a good job of inviting the right people to the right meeting and getting things accomplished. However, I often hear my friends complain about going to meetings.They’ll make comments like, “Ugh, I have another meeting today at work–what a waste of time!” or “Do you know how much work I could have accomplished instead of sitting in that meeting today?”
Meetings don’t have to be a waste of time and energy. I’ve compiled a list of suggestions to help make your meetings both efficient and productive. And remember, just because these are written with business in mind, these tips can help make family meetings at home go more smoothly too!

1) Think about why you’re holding or attending the meeting. In general, there are only three reasons to have a business meeting:
1. To inform and bring people up to speed.
2. To seek input from people.
3. To ask and obtain approval.

Use this as a framework for thinking about why you are having the meeting and then explain that purpose to your audience. Your meetings may often cut across multiple objectives but forcing yourself to clarify your goals can result in more effective meetings.
Consider starting your meeting saying something along the lines of, “I want to bring you up to speed on these two things: First, I need input on this item and second, I would like to seek your approval on these outstanding issues.” This frames the goals of the meeting for all meeting participants.

One more thing about being a meeting attendee: I would suggest that before accepting an invitation for a meeting, you know exactly what you hope to get out of it. What is in it for you, and what is in it for your organization? By thinking that through, your own personal agenda will be clear so you can participate with a clear vision in mind.

2) Engage your audience. If you’re holding the meeting, try to grasp your attendee’s attention right away. You want everyone to feel that their time and contribution is helpful so they have reason to engage during the meeting.

3) Look for conflict. Whenever you bring different people together, there’s the potential for personalities and egos to get in the way. Likewise, too many “yes people” in one meeting can result in bad decisions. Be sure to keep watch on the meeting dynamic and step in when necessary to lead the group away or towards a balanced consensus.

4) Summarize. At the end of the meeting, summarize the takeaways from the meeting. This will insure everyone knows what happened and what still needs action.
If you follow all these steps your meetings will likely be faster, more focused, and you’ll get more accomplished¬—which might mean you’ll need to have fewer of them. That’s a goal most people can agree on!

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