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Meetings need to be Productive
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A great amount of time gets utilized in a working day in 'meetings.' Not everyone of them gets the desired results.

Meetings can be very productive. They can also be a waste of time. Here are some ways to improve your meeting management skill.

"PAT" Approach - Use a "PAT" approach to meetings.

A meeting has to have:
-> a Purpose,
-> an Agenda, and
-> a Timeframe

If you don't have this, do not have a meeting.

You should be able to define the purpose of the meeting in 1 or 2 sentences at most. "This meeting is to plan the new marketing campaign" or "this meeting is to review shipping's new policy for handling returns."That way everyone knows why they are there, what needs to be done,and how to know if they are successful.

Set an agenda.
List the items you are going to review/discuss/inspect. Assign a time limit to each agenda item and identify the person responsible to facilitate the discussions during the meeting.

Set a timeframe.
At the very least set a start and end time. It is also recommended that you set a duration for each item in the agenda. These should total to the overall meeting timeframe.

Don't Wait
Meetings need to start on time. Don't wait for stragglers to show up. When someone arrives late, don't go back and review what has already been covered. That just wastes the time of the people who showed up on time for the meeting.

If the meeting organizer or the one who called the meeting doesn't show up on time, consider the meeting cancelled and go back to work. How long to wait for the organizer or the one who called the meeting to show up varies among companies, but anyway do not wait any longer than 5 minutes.

Keep and send minutes
Someone, other than the meeting organizer, should keep minutes of the meeting. How detailed these are depends on the nature of what is being discussed and the skill of the available note taker. If you set an agenda in the first place, as you should have, the note taker can use that as an outline. The minutes should record who attended, what was discussed, any agreements that were reached, and any action items that were assigned.

Soon after the meeting, usually within 24 hours, the minutes of the meeting should be distributed to all who attended, any invitees who did not attend, and anyone else effected by the discussion. Email is a great vehicle for distributing them. Distributing the minutes informs those not at the meeting of the progress that was made and reminds everyone of their action items.

Stay Focused
Every meeting should have a "topic keeper". Ask for a volunteer at the beginning of the meeting. The topic keeper's job is to interrupt whenever the discussion strays from the topic under discussion. These new topics can either be tabled until later or scheduled for their own meeting. There is a fine line between what are amplifying remarks about the topic under discussion and what is a tangential topic. The meeting organizer can decide. It never hurts to say "let's take that up off-line".

Be more productive whenever you call a meeting and whenever you have a meeting. I believe these things will make your meetings more productive.



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