How to Make Your Meetings More Effective

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When you run a meeting, you want to keep it moving and make sure it's productive, but you also want everyone to feel that it was time well spent. The small stuff often can have a large impact on your colleagues' participation and the meeting's outcome. Here are a few things that may give your meeting that little something special:

  • Providing name cards: For meetings where participants don't all know each other, provide name cards. Have people use adjectives to describe themselves as a way for others to remember their names — for example, "Savvy Susan" or "Comical Colin."

  • Taking minutes: Ask someone to take minutes. Use a tape recorder to help ensure that the minutes are accurate.

  • Adding spice: Suggest ways to liven up a potentially dull meeting. Games, brainstorming exercises, and activities that foster interactive participation help make things more exciting. The Games Trainers Play series by John Newstrom and Edward Scannell is full of fun and exciting ideas that you can easily implement to spice up the mundane.

    [Credit: Illustration © iStockphoto.com/NLshop]
    Credit: Illustration © iStockphoto.com/NLshop
  • Uncluttering the space: Working meetings can easily become cluttered with leftover food or soft drink cans. Periodically arrange a cleanup session. Removing the clutter often helps to unclutter people's minds and stimulate some extra creativity.

  • Evaluating the success: As part of your preparation, compile a short meeting evaluation form so you avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. Try to improve each subsequent meeting based on participants' feedback. Suggested questions to ask include the following:

    • How did the meeting go in relation to our goals?

    • How well did we follow the agenda?

    • How well did we stay on schedule?

    • What should we do differently next time to ensure a quality meeting?

    • What were some of the challenges we faced?

    • What conflicts or disagreements were or weren't resolved?

    • What was the quality of decisions made?

    • How well did we use participants' expertise?

    • What happened that was unexpected?

    • What areas need more preparation?

  • Also consider critiquing the meeting from your standpoint. Examine what you would do differently the next time around. Now that you know what you know, what mistakes would you avoid making?


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