25 million meetings take place in the US per day. Make your one count.

If in doubt, call a meeting – that’s right isn’t it? Over 25 million meetings take place in corporate America daily. I suspect there is a proportional number in the UK too. Almost certainly half of that time is wasted.

According to a 2007 Microsoft survey, the average time a worker spends in meetings each week around the world is 5.6 hours and 69% claim these meetings are unproductive. Were you interviewed? because I bet you are in the same boat.

How many hours do you spend a week attending meetings? Is there a better way – would a phone call suffice? Would a quick chat over coffee get the job done? It’s always worth considering.

There are always times however, when it is absolutely necessary to have a meeting whether it’s to get a decision made or to review a business case. Want to know how to run a successful meeting? Then there’s some tips below and watch out for a post on ice-breakers coming soon.

1) Know when and when not to call one

  • Ask “Why are we meeting and what do we want to accomplish?”
  • Determine if a different activity could be resorted to other than a meeting.

If there are no clear-cut answers to this question, don’t hold it!

  • There can only be four reasons can’t there?
  • Brainstorming
  • Delivering information
  • Gathering information
  • Decision making

2) Get inspired before you start

3) Preparation is key

  • Identify the place of the meeting (obviously).
  • List participants and guests.
  • List the participants’ roles.
  • Define the objectives and desired outcomes.
  • Determine topics.
  • Determine the length of the meeting.
  • Plan books, speakers, or videos to make it creative.
  • Use a variety of tools and activities to make it fun – see our forthcoming ice breaker post
  • Create an agenda that is carefully scripted.

4) Focus on three areas beforehand:

  • Content. Focus meetings around key issues. Never lose sight of the “what” of your meeting.
  • Design. Figure out how you want to approach each agenda item, as well as how deeply or thoroughly you want to discuss each item.
  • Process. Make sure that one idea is discussed at a time, and that everyone is in agreement as to how decisions will be made.

5) Rules for chairing

  • Review the agenda and set priorities for the meeting at the start
  • Work through the agenda, addressing each point in turn
  • Ensure that all team members contribute and feel able to disagree
  • Remember – two of ‘these’ and one of ‘those’
  • When the group encounters a problem, confront it openly and attempt to find a solution
  • Use a flipchart – it helps express ideas
  • Ensure that all people are heard from
  • Let the people carry the content; make sure that the moderators just guide them through the process
  • Vary the pace: speed up, slow down, and take breaks
  • Keep the group aware of where they are in the process
  • Help the group reach consensus and reach conclusions

7) Don’t let these things happen

  • An argument starting about an established fact
  • Opinions being introduced as if they were facts
  • People intimidating others with real or imaginary ‘knowledge’
  • People overwhelming others with a proposal
  • People can becoming angry for no good reason
  • Promoting your own vision at the expense of all others
  • People demanding or offering (far) more information than needed

(8) Action points – the whole point of a meeting

  • For goodness sake make sure actions are agreed verbally at the meeting and then followed up!
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  1. […] of humanity, you can probably count on having a few (or maybe even a ton) of meetings in the week ahead. Can you imagine if every meeting you attended this week was productive, purpose-driven, even […]

  2. […] of humanity, you can probably count on having a few (or maybe even a ton) of meetings in the week ahead. Can you imagine if every meeting you attended this week was productive, purpose-driven, even […]

  3. […] run our business lives. According to a survey conducted by Microsoft in 2007, the average time a worker spends in meetings each week is 5.6 hours. This number represents no […]

  4. […] you’ll get a personalized link that looks something like http://card.ly/lifehacker . 25 million meetings take place in the US per day. Make your one count. – being-smarter.com 07/23/2009 If in doubt, call a meeting – that’s right isn’t it? Over 25 […]

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