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In a corporate setting, meetings are often seen as a necessary evil. They can be long, drawn-out affairs that seem to accomplish very little. Or, they can be so informal that they feel like a waste of time. Either way, they’re often dreaded by both managers and employees.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. With a bit of planning and execution, meetings can be productive, insightful, and even enjoyable. Here are a few tips on how to handle meetings effectively:

Plan Ahead

One of the biggest problems with meetings is that they’re often called without any real purpose or goal. As a result, they meander aimlessly until someone finally calls an end to them. To avoid this problem, always have a clear goal in mind before calling a meeting.

What do you hope to accomplish? What decisions need to be made? Having a clear purpose can keep the meeting focused and on track. Once you know that, you can determine who needs to be in attendance and what information needs to be shared. Trying to accomplish too many things or having too many people in the room will only lead to frustration and wasted time.

So, before you even start planning the logistics of your meeting, you need to take a step back and think about why you’re calling a meeting in the first place. By having a clear goal in mind, the rest will fall into place.

Send an Agenda in Advance.

Calling out a meeting without an agenda is one of the quickest ways to lose people’s attention. How can you expect others to be prepared if you’re unsure of what needs to be discussed?

To avoid this, always send an agenda in advance. Doing so will give everyone a chance to review the topics that will be covered and come prepared with questions or comments. It also allows people to decide if they need to be in the meeting or if they can send a delegate to their place.

An agenda doesn’t have to be long or complicated; simply listing the topics to be covered is sufficient. You can also include any background information or documents that need to be reviewed beforehand.

This way, when the meeting starts, everyone will be on the same page, and there won’t be any wasted time.

Start On Time and End On Time.

This one seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often meetings run over their allotted time because no one was paying attention to the clock. And as the manager or organizer of the meeting, it’s your responsibility to keep things moving.

One of the best ways to show respect for someone’s time is to start and end your meetings when you say you will. If someone goes off on a tangent, politely but firmly bring them back to the topic. And when the meeting is over, end it immediately. Don’t linger around afterward; people have other things they need to do.

People will appreciate that you value their time and are more likely to attend future meetings if they know they won’t be sitting around twiddling their thumbs, waiting for things to get started. In doing so, you’ll also set the tone for future meetings and establish yourself as a fair and effective leader.

person in a meeting

Practice your Facilitation Skills.

A meeting is only as good as its facilitator. If you’re in charge, it’s your responsibility to keep things moving and ensure that everyone has a chance to get heard. It can be challenging, especially if you don’t have the necessary facilitation skills.

You can improve in this area by attending facilitation skills training. These workshops will teach you how to keep meetings on track, manage different personalities, and handle difficult conversations.

You can also practice your skills by role-playing with a colleague or friend. This approach will help you to be more prepared when it’s time to lead a meeting. By honing your facilitation skills, you’ll be able to effectively manage any meeting, no matter how challenging it may be.

Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate

If you’re running the meeting, it’s easy to feel you have to do everything yourself. But that’s not the case. Part of being an effective manager is knowing when to delegate tasks. So if something needs to be done, but you’re not the best person for the job, delegate it to someone else.

This strategy will help get things done more efficiently and give others a chance to step up and show what they’re capable of. As a result, you’ll build a stronger team and establish yourself as a leader who is willing to trust their team.

With a bit of planning and execution, meetings can be productive, insightful, and even enjoyable. By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your next appointment is one everyone will want to attend.

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