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Last updated February 22, 2017

Meetings are a part of working life yet most employees view them as a waste of time and a major productivity downer. However, the opportunity to get people together, share ideas and solve problems is vital for keeping the wheel turning. So how do you ensure that your meetings keep people feeling energised and excited about work?

1. Know Why You Are Meeting
Generally meetings can be thought of as either information getting, information giving or problem solving; so tell people why they need to be there. If everyone has a clear idea about the purpose of the meeting, they are much more likely to be prepared and you are much more likely to achieve your goals. And remember, if there is nothing to put on the agenda, does there really need to be a meeting?

2. Know What Your Meeting Looks Like
Give everybody the opportunity to check out the agenda in plenty of time and give feedback on what’s in the meeting. Include time slots for each agenda item so people know what to expect, and note the purpose of each item too. Generally speaking more time is needed for problem solving and creative discussions, than information getting. Having a plan makes it much easier to stick to the issues at hand and to guide any potential meeting hijackers back to the main point.

3. Time, Time, Time
Time is precious, so make sure you keep things short and sweet. If you struggle with keeping people on track, ensure you have time allocated for each item, and consider trying some tougher options like bringing a timer to the meeting. Google keep their meetings on track by projecting a timer on a big screen that counts down and changes colour providing a really visual cue, but even an egg timer would work. You could make a different person responsible for keeping time on each agenda item, or you could set rules so that if time goes over by 5 minutes on one section, you collectively decide on another segment which loses 5 minutes. Although it may seem a bit ruthless, if time management is an ongoing problem in meetings then a bit of a shake-up might just help get everyone on the same track.

4. Try Something New
Are you doing things the same way because that’s how they have always been done? Why don’t you try something new? If your meetings always run for an hour, try doing 50 minutes instead. Go to a new venue, have a walking meeting on the beach or around the block, or even try a stand up meeting to keep people on their toes. You never know, you might inspire new ideas and discussions, and people might really value the change.

5. Summarise
Being clear on your next steps after the meeting is really important and someone (usually the person chairing the meeting) needs to ensure everything is summarised so people know what needs to be done and who is going to do it. Do this at the end of the meeting while people are still face to face, but also remember to follow it up with an email or memo re-confirming tasks and responsibilities.  This means people can be held accountable for getting things done before next time and everyone is on the same page.

Rosie Julou
Rosie is the General Manager at Exult and is responsible for chairing weekly meetings with the Exult team, as well as co-ordinating the monthly planning sessions.

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