Tips for Running Effective Meetings

Meetings during work time are one of the most common activities among managers and team members.
Over using this tool can generate resistance among the participants and even lack of cooperation, disappointment , waste of money and most important, it can break the rapport created with the team members beforehand.
And last but not least, meetings are not a free asset. If you multiply each participant hourly rate per the number of participants and the meeting's duration, you will see how expensive it is to conduct a meeting.

The following tips will help you make sure that you run your next meeting in the most effective way:

1. Analyze if a meeting is really required: Formal meetings require from a team member to stop what they are doing and dedicate at least one hour outside their regular work. Sometimes a short phone call or even approaching the person to his desk to clarify a point can save the meeting´s time.

2. Prepare a clear agenda for the meeting and distribute it to all participants:
Setting the framework for the meeting is very important for the following reasons:

A) To align expectations and clarify what the meeting is about.
B) To set the boundries of the meeting to avoid deviations to irrelevant subjects.
C) Limit the time of the meeting and make sure all the agenda subjects are discussed and nothing is forgotten.
D) To define roles and responsibilities for the meeting and who needs to be present and why.

3. Analyze who should be and who shouldn't be part of the meeting:
Keep the meeting as small as possible in terms of number of participants. 
More is not always better. Adding unnecessary people to the meeting can create irrelevant arguments and bring the meeting into a freezing point where no decissions can be taken. Moreover, make sure that every participant will have a say and is really relevant to the subject discussed. Many times I heard people saying "Why am I here? "

4. Have a scribe during the meeting: The scribe should record the contents of the meeting, summarize improtant points and write the action items agreed with the participants.

5. Send meeting minutes and action items after the meeting: If you don´t write it down no one will remember it tomorrow and everyone will have another view on what was agreed during the meeting.
Puting things on paper will make sure everyone have the same understanding on what was discussed and everyone knows who needs to do what.

6. Follow up action items.
People are busy. If you don´t follow up the action items and make sure people will comply, most probably they won´t. 

7. Action items should have a 1. Owner , 2. Specific action , 3. Defined timeline.

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