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6 Ways to Get Meetings Under Control

How many times have you walked out of a meeting and felt like it could’ve been an email? If employees are pulled away from their daily responsibilities for meeting purposes, make sure it’s an effective use of their time.

Something as simple as one person’s tangent can sabotage a meeting. Therefore, it’s important to do your best to prepare appropriately beforehand, lead efficiently during, and follow up thoroughly after. Meetings aren’t a waste of time; meetings are essential when moving business forward successfully.

So, how can you get meetings under control? Start with these 6 strategies.

Prepare Attendees in Advance – Create an agenda that includes a list of topics to be discussed, the people who will be in attendance, and any pertinent information that people should catch up on before the meeting. You can’t assume everyone knows what topics will be discussed or what their priorities are. Spell it out for them. If you know which people will be discussing certain things, make attendees aware of it.

Have Specific Goals – Before coming up with a list of goals you hope to achieve in the meeting, share the objectives with attendees prior. The most important factor for a successful meeting is determining a clear goal and specific objectives for getting there. If there isn’t a purpose, there shouldn’t be a meeting. Figure out what questions need answering and who needs to do what before meeting. This way, your group can reach the goals set out for them.

Stay on Track – If you know there’s a certain amount of time designated for a meeting, break it up into sections and time allotments for each topic. There will be specific topics that will take people off track. It’s important to go into a meeting armed with particular ways to redirect conversation and get people refocused. For example, acknowledge the direction someone is going but bounce them back to the topic at hand if it veers too far left. You could also blame time restraints for the redirection.

Plan for Distractions – Distractions are inevitable, especially if you have remote attendees. Do your best to create a meeting space that can support a distraction-free event. The room should be closed off from outside noise and visual distractors. If you have people calling in from a remote location, test out the technology beforehand.

Build-in Time for Creativity – Of course, it’s important to keep things on track and follow the agenda while still building in time to allow for creativity. Some of the best ideas or solutions come from larger, more in-depth discussions and planning. Before starting the meeting, think about what personalities you’ll have in attendance and how you should communicate with them in an effort to create an effective and efficient meeting.

Finish with CTAs – Just as you would an email, close out the meeting with a quick recap and a list of action items. Recapping helps communicate to everyone that the meeting is wrapping up. A ton of detail doesn’t need to go into this. Being direct and precise works best.

The amount of time spent in a meeting will vary depending on the agenda. However you structure your meetings, do so in a precise and focused way. Don’t feel forced to stretch a meeting out a full hour if it’s not needed, but also don’t rush yourself through a meeting either. Schedule time appropriately.

How do you keep your meetings on track and in control? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out 7 Steps to Becoming an Inclusive Organization.