Making Meetings Work

I recently attended an online seminar called "Making Meetings Work". The following points resonated the most with me:

  • Provide an Agenda — Sending a simple bulleted list of what you're going to talk about gives the meeting participants a chance to think about the topic(s) before entering the discussion.
  • Agree on Action Items — As action items are identified throughout the meeting it's important to discuss the details. What needs to be done, who is responsible, when does it need to be done, etc.
  • Stay on Topic — Every meeting has a time limit, so it is important to follow the agenda. If you're in charge of the meeting, you'll want to be on the lookout for unrelated tangents. You'll also want to be careful of discussions that go too in-depth. You may only have an hour to discuss several projects. If you spend a half-hour on one project, you may not have time to get to everything on the agenda.
  • Create Meeting Notes — Providing meeting notes can be helpful to make sure everyone is on the same page. These notes could be as simple as a bulleted list of action items; or as in-depth as you want them to be. The notes may also provide a good starting point for the next meeting.

Meetings have become an intrinsic part of my career over the last few years. Since starting my employment with the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute in 2002, we have added two members to the web team. We have also established a communications group to work towards a more unified branding of our websites, newsletters, publications, and other resources. I don't see the need for meetings going away any time soon. So all we can do is work towards improving the efficiency of those meetings.

But is an Eraser

As a side note, the presenter talked about how to handle discussions that go beyond the scope of the meeting. She mentioned that she would say something like "You bring up a very interesting point, however, it doesn't fit in with the agenda." She then discussed how she prefers the word "however" over "but". An instructor once told her that "but" is an eraser; it can seem like the point isn't as important. ("Your point may be important to you, but we don't want to hear it.")


What techniques do you use to increase the success rate of your meetings? I would also love to hear your meeting horror stories.


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