Some people have a natural knack for meetings, to others they’re a nightmare. Regardless of how rich our experience of meetings is, doing them right is an art which all of us can master. We can start by identifying the key avoidable traps and turn them into healthy meeting habits. Take them as reminders or revelations, but take them do.

To meet or not to meet?

That certainly should be the question. Determining whether you really need a meeting is paramount. If it’s not a brainstorming session, emails, chat and other means of communication will do just fine. The purpose of a meeting should be clearly devised, otherwise it can quickly tip into the “waste of time” zone.

No agenda, no point

It might seem like a no-brainer, but not setting an agenda remains one of the most common mistakes in the meeting game. It outlines goals and improves the meeting’s effectiveness. So set one! Participants must know why they’ve been summoned. Listing necessary topics takes minutes, while not doing so can waste hours.  

Failing to focus

Now that you have an agenda, stick to it. When unscheduled topics pop up, asses their relevance, then return to the topic at hand. Remember, useful matters can more often than not be addressed at another occasion. Minimizing the occurrence of discussions that don’t belong is vital for keeping the meeting on track.

Facebook can wait, face time cannot

Distractions come in all forms. In addition to “side meetings” – attendees holding private discussions in the form of whisperings, there’s also the problem of using your computer or phone. However good you may claim to be at multitasking, screens are distracting. Period. They hamper everyone’s concentration and should be avoided at all costs.

Dragging it out

Punctuality is important. Not only in terms of starting meetings, but also ending them. Committing to a certain time frame will guarantee higher productivity and involvement. Moreover, your team’s time is precious and should be used for other job-related activities. The commonly suggested 30-minute meetings usually suffice.   

Silence is not always golden  

Whether it’s someone from another department, a new member of your team or simply someone who’s shy, don’t view a silent attendee as a meeting con. Instead, take advantage of the newcomer’s fresh insight, encourage the lone representative from HR to draw a correlation with her department’s aims, and check with the introvert at the end of each topic, he might be a goldmine of ideas.

Are you still with us?

You don’t have to force everyone to speak, but do make sure they’re listening. Keep people engaged by including visual content, reel them in by stressing the importance of the subject matter, and don’t forget to give some praise. Active participation is closely connected with the feeling of being valued.

Same old song and dance

Rituals and routines are nice, but mixing things up a bit doesn’t hurt either. Standing meetings get the blood flowing, changing the surrounding can be refreshing, and starting meetings with a question that gets participants thinking is never a bad idea. Getting creative boosts creativity!

 

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