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Strategies for Leading Effective Meetings

Why do do meetings have such a bad rap? Because too many of them are poorly organized, overly long, and rudderless--drifting this way and that according to the moods of the dominant personalities in the room.

Here are several more ways to successfully facilitate a meeting people want to attend:

Open With A Bang

Start with a focused "attention getter" that will put your meeting in context. Before going over agenda or thank yous, ask a provocative question, state an interesting statistic, quote someone or tell a story. Make sure these connect to the "why" or bottom line of your meeting and address "what's in it for them." This will wake up the creative part of listeners' minds and lead to more engagement.

Make A Real-Time Agenda

Meetings are usually boring. Ignite the energy and what matters to people by asking, "What is most important to you right now in terms of team success?" Go around the room and have each person share their thoughts in 30 seconds or less. Write them down and have the team decide in what order the ideas have the most leverage, and then map out what it will take to accomplish them. Listen

Timebox aggressively

Establish how long you’re going to spend on each topic, and stick to a schedule – even if a timer’s required to keep chatty individuals in check. Spending twenty minutes on a topic may lead to a better decision but if the conversation drags on endlessly, you won’t have time to discuss other important items and your one meeting will turn into two, three, or four.

Take Notes

To avoid missing important details that arise during the meeting, take notes or assign someone the task of capturing overall results of the meeting. This includes any important data, key decisions, or group ideas that require follow up. There are many note-taking tools available for team discussions and collaboration, but you can also rely on video recordings to remember exactly what was said in the meeting. If you do record a meeting, just be sure to let the participants know ahead of time.

Make an Action Plan

Now it’s time to summarize the decisions that came out of the meeting and delegate responsibility for any follow up tasks. Try to send this summary or plan for your follow up assignments within 24 hours after the meeting. This way, ideas from the meeting are still fresh and employees will be more motivated to perform their follow up requirements.

Conduct a brief analysis of the outcome of the meeting to reflect on how effectively the time was used and determine whether your meeting’s goals were achieved. This will help you identify any gaps in your strategy and provide helpful insight on areas for improvement for the next meeting.

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