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10 useful tips to improve business meetings

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How many hours in a week do you spend on meetings? Probably a lot. In fact, both workers and managers complain constantly about how meetings have taken away their valuable time from important tasks.

However, when done right, regular meetings can increase the productivity among the team, create a culture of feedback and reduce workplace stress.

Here are tips from Robert Half for meeting attendees and organisers to better prepare themselves before meetings and maximise everyone’s effort during. If you don’t want your next meeting to be another time waster, take notes.

When chairing a meeting:

1. Keep the discussion brief and precise
Know the purpose of the meeting and make sure the discussion sticks to the agenda. Nothing wastes more time than having a directionless meeting. Also, the writer suggests cutting back standing meetings if possible and only include people relevant to the subject of discussion.

2. Try non-traditional meeting formats
Not only you, attendees may also get bored having meeting around the table. The writer proposes to change things up by holding standup meetings or walking meetings. These will not only keep the attendees engaged, but also encourage brevity.

3. Make sure everyone’s voice is heard
Don’t skip out on sending an agenda to every participant ahead of time. An agenda allows them to prepare before the meeting and have time to come up with ideas to share. Also, you should make sure everyone has a chance to contribute on the subject during the discussion.

4. Be a good leader
Chairing a meeting does not mean you are entitled to speak the entire time. In fact, that defeats the purpose of a meeting. Instead of rambling about your own thoughts, good leaders get feedback from others, inspire the team to come up with ideas and motivate them to achieve better results. Also, make sure you communicate your decisions effectively and clearly.

5. Follow up after the meeting
Send a follow up email to recap on or clarify important details, action items, plans or even inspirations that came across during the discussion.

When attending a meeting:

1. Respond to invitation promptly and show up on time
Respond to meeting invitation so that the organiser knows you got it and are available. Also, being busy is no excuse for arriving late at a meeting, as everybody else is probably as busy, and you may miss important information as well.

2. Read the agenda beforehand
You should review what will be covered in the meeting and do your homework ahead of time, which includes doing research on the subject. If possible, try to think of different solutions or alternatives to the matter of subject instead of simply asking questions. Don’t be afraid of asking about the discussion topics if you don’t receive an agenda.

3. Speak up at the right time
When you are at a meeting where the matter at hand is not your expertise, you may be tempted to ask a lot of questions, but you should hold up. It’s often more appropriate to let others ask questions first, as the answers may clear up matters for you. If you are new to certain meetings, study the protocol at prior meetings. It will shed some light on what your role should be in the discussion.

4. Be brief with your message
As a general rule, the more lengthy your message is, the less likely your colleagues will listen to it. Spend some time practising how you can get your points across concisely. If you are giving a presentation, keep the number of slides to a minimum while making sure your choice of word is easy to understand to everybody in the room, including the laymen.

5. Pay attention
Ringing sounds and alarms are distracting, so make sure your phone is put on vibrate before the meeting. Take notes on important details and action items but be sure to look up from time to time so you don’t appear disengaged.

ALSO READ: The best country in the world for meetings is…

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