10 ways to keep meetings from being soul-crushing experiences
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Tactics for holding effective meetings
Meetingsrnare vital in business, but they can also become time-consuming showstoppers when they cease to be productive. Ifrnyou start to get the feeling that your meetings are ineffective, here are 10rnhelpful strategies to employ.
1: Make meetings the exception and not the rule
If yourndon’t have a reason to meet, don’t.
2: Exploit social media
Instantrnmessaging, social media posting boards, and other online collaboration toolsrncan be effective means of getting people together on issues and resolutionsrnwithout having to call a meeting.
3: Conduct mini preemptive meetings
If your meeting is about a complex issue, or you are working with a group where there are many known incompatibilities, it is best to hold a preemptive meeting first. By meeting separately with smaller contingents of the overall group, you’ll be aware of all the issues that could be brought up in the larger forum.
Once you know the issues, you have an opportunity to defuse them and to achieve consensus in advance of the main meeting. Almost always, this assures that your larger meeting will flow better and faster.
4: Publish the meeting agenda/goals in advance
Pre-publication of meeting agenda items and goals helps everyone focus in advance on what the meeting needs to accomplish.
5: Order pizza
There arerntimes when staff is weary, overworked, and hardly in a mood for a meeting. Whenrnthis is the case, order in pizza and go over meeting issues in a relaxedrnatmosphere. This is especially helpful for lunch meetings that occur whenrnschedules are tight, and there isn’t another time to meet.
6: Run the meeting by the clock
By informing meeting attendees inrnadvance that the meeting will not run beyond its scheduled time, you can oftenrnenergize the group to get through all of the issues in the allottedrntimeframe. This tactic works best when the room is booked by another group rightrnafter your meeting.
7: Get "meeting mongers" to focus
I’m not a fan of long meetings, so I was surprised to learn there are actually “meeting mongers” — those are people who enjoy meeting just to meet. It is easy to spot them in meetings: They bring up side issues to the agenda so conversations can be prolonged, and they leave disappointed when the meeting ends.
If you lead a meeting with meeting mongers, it is important to keep these folks focused on the agenda, so you don’t lose control of the room.
8: Put a stop to filibusters
People whornstep in to prolong discussions because they sense the meeting is not goingrnwhere they want it to can be tougher than the meeting mongers. They systematicallyrntry to derail the meeting by taking the floor and discussing fine points of thernissues so they can postpone a decision that is unpopular to them.
As soonrnas you see filibustering, step in immediately to stop it — the other attendeesrnwill appreciate it. You should interrupt the person filibustering, tell themrnthe matter can be addressed “offline,” and get the meeting back onrntrack.
9: Call a timeout
Ifrntempers flare and the meeting exchanges get hot, it is the perfect time to callrnthe meeting off with a request to reconvene at a later time. This allowsrneveryone to cool off, collect themselves, and perhaps meet independently beforernthe next meeting to iron out the troubling issues.
10: Talk with upper management before reconvening
Somernmeetings become so dysfunctional that even the thought of reconvening later is unrealistic. In this case, the bestrnthing to do is to call together upper management of both sides to ensure thatrnyou have consensus in goals and executive endorsement before scheduling another meeting.
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