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Time Management Fortress Newsletter: Boost Your Effectiveness in Dealing with Meetings
September 27, 2005


Building a stronger foundation for your success skills

September 27, 2005

From Sergey Dudiy, Ph.D., at

Dear valued subscriber:

Here is my new article that I would like to share with you in this issue.

Boost Your Effectiveness in Dealing with Meetings

How many hours in your week are occupied by meetings? Does every such hour gives you or your organization a better pay off than an hour at your desk?

If this is far from the way you feel about your meetings, you now have a good opportunity to boost your personal effectiveness and get an extra edge in your organization. The edge that comes from learning how to get the best out of meetings.

Here are some essential points that can drastically increase the pay off from your time spent in meetings.

The first question to ask yourself before initiating or attending any meeting is “What are the desired outcomes from this meeting and/or from my attendance?” Write down your answers. Addressing this question first and identifying a clear answer is absolutely critical for anything else you do in connection to that meeting.

The second critical question is “What is the best tool to reach that outcome?” Remember that a meeting is just one of the tools of interpersonal communication. Like any tool, it serves well for certain situations, but may be useless and wasteful for many others. Now, could any of the objectives of the expected meeting be better achieved some other way? For example, by sending an email, writing a memo, having a one-on-one conversation, or just making a decision on your own.

It does not make much difference how well organized is the meeting if that meeting does not need to be held in the first place.

Similarly, before attending a meeting, check if you could obtain or share the same information or insights better and more efficiently some other way.

The next important question for an effective meeting is “Who are the right people to be at the meeting?” Are there any people (including yourself) who are not expected to get any noticeable benefits or to give any relevant help in this particular meeting? No need to waste their time. On the other hand, could you invite an additional person who could provide some helpful expertise, insights, or first hand facts relevant for the meeting purposes?

Now, after you are clear about the desired outcome, you are sure that a meeting is the way to go, and it is clear who needs attend, you are finally ready to prepare and distribute an agenda, based on the desired outcomes of the meeting.

The agenda should communicate clearly and briefly the purpose of the meeting, the schedule of the presentations by the participants, and the key points for discussion, all with specific time frames. Put the more important presentations and points first.

For meetings where you are not the organizer, still pay attention to the agenda and make sure you have it in advance.

Having a clear agenda that is properly communicated to everyone before the meeting serves a number of purposes, both before and during the meeting. Before the meeting, the agenda allows everyone to prepare. Even when no practical action steps are required or done, the agenda prepares everyone’s conscious and subconscious minds for more effective work during the meeting. During the meeting, the agenda sets priorities and time frames. It is a necessary tool for keeping the meeting focused and productive.

Finally, while the guidelines above are essential for practically any productive meeting, you may face additional challenges when organizing and conducting your meetings. Depending on the number and diversity of the attendees, the standards of your organization, and your personal standards of excellence, there are a number of finer details you will need to pay attention to. From choosing the right time, location, and seating, to recognizing and managing interpersonal dynamics during the meeting. To navigate through such details, keep with you a concise printed guide, such as Managing Meetings.

I wish you success,

Sergey Dudiy, Ph.D.

Here are some related articles from my site.

Team work and team building essentials
Good understanding of team work and team building are critical for your business success or corporate office career. Tips and insights into team work and team building principles and activities.

Decision making skills and techniques guide
Good decision making skills is the foundation for life and time management skills.

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