Ways to ensure productive meetings

There is probably nothing more vexing than to be called to an endless, pointless meeting. For many of us, not only is it a waste of time, but also a demotivating endeavor.

Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that meetings are productive and relatively brief.
We asked Pia Reyes-Cruz, an advocate of teaching tools for productivity, to share some tips on exactly how we can achieve this:

1. Specify an end time to your meetings and abide by it.

This sounds very basic, but still, it happens all the time: Open-ended meetings that can drag on and on for hours. It also happens a lot that even when an end time is given (probably just because it’s required in electronic meeting invitations), it is not honored. Indicating a time by which meetings should end and mentioning this beforehand subconsciously creates a sense of urgency in the participants to move the meeting forward. Giving the breakdown of the number of minutes allotted for each agenda item will further reinforce this. Keeping your meetings concise and ending at the target time consistently will create a culture wherein meetings are focused and taken more seriously.

2. Invite only the truly necessary meeting participants.

Do not invite those who merely sit through the meeting and listen in (spare them and just give them a copy of the minutes). Instead, invite the critical few who will truly add value to your meeting and move your business or project forward—the input providers, the decision-makers, the project owners, etc. Ensure that all participants have an active role in the meeting and that they know this.

Be wary when participants are sent as representatives or proxies of the original invitees as they may not have the needed information or authority to make decisions or calls on behalf of those they are representing. They may even slow down the creation of action points.

3. Go the extra mile in your meeting preparations.

Do not stop at making an agenda and sending these to the participants beforehand. There are several things you can do to ensure things get rolling during your meeting and your objectives are met quickly.

Make a list of questions you anticipate and throw them out to the concerned individuals before the meeting. If some decisions will be made, determine beforehand the decision-making process you will employ: Will you have a poll and the majority wins? Will you proceed when there is a unanimous vote, or only the boss or leader decides? If you intend to have some people make presentations, inform them of the number of minutes you will give them and the key points you are expecting, so they do not go on forever. A few companies even go as far as requiring all presentations be given to participants 24 hours before and expect everyone to have read them upon entering the meeting room. These little techniques will go a long way in making your meetings productive.

Pia will conduct a course entitled “Leading Effective Meetings: Optimizing your Time and Resources” on April 24. The course will teach participants techniques to prepare and run a productive meeting, how to manage different characters in a meeting, and how to create norms in establishing a productive meeting culture.

The Inquirer Academy is located at 4168 Don Chino Roces Ave. corner Ponte St., Makati City. For more information about the workshops or if you would like to add your input to this article, you may e-mail ask@inquireracademy.com, call (632) 834-1557 or 771-2715 and look for Jerald Miguel or Judy Bondoc, or visit the website at www.inquireracademy.com.


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