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    Leading Effective Meetings
    72 Tips to Save Time, Improve Teamwork, and Make Better Decisions

    Why suffer though another monotonous meeting? Conduct successful meetings where business is accomplished instead of time wasted.

    You have attended scores of them. Probably even a few this week. And for some reason, the thought of sitting in on another one leaves you nauseated. They’re called meetings and they’re an integral part of business life.

    Actually, they are a pretty good idea. Gather a group of talented people, pool their resources and expertise, hash out some issues, devise a game plan, and everyone is the better for it.

    Unfortunately, not all meetings follow that agenda. Instead, busy people with complicated schedules reluctantly congregate to vent their frustrations, complicate matters, and pontificate pet peeves. And everyone ends up with more work.

    Meetings are here to stay, and sooner or later, you’ll likely be asked to lead one. Understand the basics of how to conduct a meeting and you’ll be known as one who gets things done; neglect these basics and you’ll only waste everyone’s time.

    Meetings can bring the world to peace—or kill fifteen hours a week for even the best time manager. Communicating ideas and creating solutions as a team take the best of attention and skill. These guidelines will help you lead and participate in team discussions both to contribute and evaluate ideas.

    Tip 1: To meet or not to meet — study the question.

    How many times have you accepted an invitation to a lunch meeting, only to realize that you’ve spent an hour and a half on something that could have been done in a 10-minute phone call or a 5-minute e-mail? The higher you go, the busier you get. And the meetings you attend must count.

    If you get a reputation for conducting useless meetings, the busiest and best people won’t show up. If you’re asked to attend someone else’s typically unproductive meetings, defer with one of the following: “Is attendance mandatory?” “I’m unavailable. Is my attendance important enough to change my schedule?” “Could I send a representative?” “Would you mind if I offer my input in writing or in a follow-up phone call?” Others will generally surmise that you expect meeting time to be well spent.

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    Tip 2: Call a meeting only for the right reasons.

    When you call a meeting, make it significant and be prepared. In a client situation, you may have been working for months on a deal that will either thrive or nosedive based on a single meeting. The higher you go in your own organization, the more expectations others have for your abilities to conduct yourself in a meeting—either as a participant or as a leader. Take things seriously. Call a meeting to

    • Present information to a lot of people quickly without writing it.
    • Get immediate input from others.
    • Gain “buy-in” from the team and provide a setting in which some members can influence others positively.
    • Motivate and energize the group about the idea.

    Skip the meeting if

    • You have nothing special to discuss.
    • You don't need others' input.
    • Your mind is already made up about what you plan to do.
    • Getting others involved would only complicate your plan.

    These are even worse reasons to meet: Meeting as a substitute for work. Rubber-stamping a decision. Complaining. Demonstrating the power to make everybody show up. Because joy and misery love company, sorting out true motivations may require some soul searching.

    Tip 3: Set an agenda.

    Some people think that agendas lend too much structure to a meeting, that people can’t be spontaneous when there is an agenda, or that the atmosphere will be too formal. Nonsense. That’s like saying that if you plan for a vacation by packing the right clothes, arranging for transportation, and deciding on a destination, you can’t relax and be spontaneous along the way.

    Tip 4: Make your agenda informative.

    Use questions, not topics. Summarize the issue at hand in a succinct question. Examples: “Should we hold the convention in St. Louis or in Portland?” (Not: “Convention Location.”) “What ideas do you have for our annual fund-raising drive?” (Not: “Annual Fund-raising Drive.”) “Should we upgrade our equipment?” (Not: “Outdated Equipment.”) “How can we use YouTube more effectively to engage prospects?” (Not: “Using Social Media Tools.”) A question that is well formed reduces your meeting time by a margin of 50 percent.

    Then let the group know what you expect on each issue—“for discussion only,” “for their information only,” “to collect your data,” or “for decision.” Whether you stay right with the agenda or take a few minutes’ detour, having an agenda will give others a little peace of mind that the meeting is going somewhere—and that it will end.

  • About the Author

    Dianna Booher’s extensive and ongoing research and published works in the field of business communication and productivity serve as the foundation for over 40 books on communication skills training . Dianna has received the highest awards in the professional speaking industry, including induction into the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame®. She is a member of the prestigious Speakers Roundtable. As a result of Dianna's work among top corporations on communication issues, Executive Excellence magazine has recognized Dianna on its list of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in America. Additionally, Successful Meetings magazine named Dianna on its list of 21 Top Speakers for the 21st Century! Dianna has been interviewed by Good Morning America, CNN, CNBC, USA Today, the Washington Post, New York Newsday, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal Radio, National Public Radio, Bloomberg, Investors Business Daily, Fox Family Network, Reader's Digest, Working Woman, Industry Week, McCall's, Cosmopolitan, Success, Entrepreneur, among other national radio, TV, and newspapers. She holds a master's degree in English from the University of Houston.

$4.95  buy now

Leading Effective Meetings

Why suffer through another monotonous meeting?

Be known as someone who gets things done. Apply the basics of great meeting management and get results—or neglect them and waste everyone’s time. Among other great techniques and meeting skills, you will learn to:

  • build an effective meeting agenda
  • encourage participation—if you want it
  • avoid situations that can derail the meeting
  • lead with personal credibility and excellent presentation skills
  • shorten the process leading to quality decision-making with appropriate analysis and meeting discussion techniques
  • deal effectively with problem participants by using effective facilitation skills

In this 28-page ebook, Dianna Booher offers 72 tips that help you with every aspect of the meeting, from assessing whether a meeting is necessary to rewarding the creativity and hard work of meeting participants.

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