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Planning for More Efficient Meetings

March 29, 2016

We’ve all walked out of a meeting and thought: ‘What did we even just decide?’ Meetings are a workplace necessity, but can often feel like a waste of time if the conversation meanders aimlessly or decisions are delayed. Productive meetings, on the other hand, have clear agendas, informed discussions, and actionable results. They require planning, diligence, and strong facilitative skills. However, we think you’ll find that the results are worth the extra effort.

Here are some guidelines to make your meetings more efficient:

  • Start with an agenda. Ask yourself: Why are we having this meeting? What do we need to accomplish? What decisions do we need to make during this meeting? Those answers will help form your agenda. Then, send that agenda to meeting participants so that they come prepared to contribute to the discussion.
  • Prepare any background materials that will be relevant to the meeting, for example financial spreadsheets or project outlines. Consider if background materials should be emailed ahead of time so that participants have time to mull them over, and form opinions or decisions.
  • Set realistic and clear expectations ahead of time. Assign discussion leaders before the meeting so that participants come prepared.
  • Set some ground rules and expectations for behavior: no interruptions, no texting or emailing, no doing other work. Full engagement makes for a more productive meeting.
  • Budget enough time for each item on the agenda. Be flexible if something warrants more discussion, but keep the discussion moving and on track.
  • Include everyone in the discussion by tempering the dominant personalities and encouraging sharing. Facilitators can usually sense when they’re losing someone; reel people back in by asking for input, and making regular eye contact.
  • Don’t leave the meeting until everyone has a clear idea of what the next steps are. Make a plan to follow up with attendees.

After the meeting, facilitators should promptly follow up with attendees. Remind them what you decided at the meeting, and what their next steps should be.

Poorly planned meetings waste productive time and irritate employees. Show employees you value their time and their input by preparing and facilitating a productive meeting.

Pacific Office Automation’s goal is to help clients work towards greater productivity by streamlining their workflow processes. We offer smart solutions like print and track control, document management systems, fax servers, data security help, and more. Contact us today to find out how we can help your team operate more efficiently.

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