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It is estimated that about 40-50 % of our work hours is spent in meetings. I suppose the world over poorly conducted meetings have become a bug bear for working people.
The reasons for the negative image meetings per se have acquired over time are not far to find.

The main reason is ineffective meeting management skills on the part of the meeting chairperson/facilitator. On the other hand, a well conducted meeting can be decisive, informative and leave participants energized to go out and achieve the meeting objectives.

The first essential for a good meeting is so obvious but not always done- preparation. This involves planning for the logistics of the meeting, deciding who will be invited to participate and what the planned outcomes of the meeting will be .

As Stephen Covey says in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind.” Your meeting purpose will determine the meeting focus, the meeting agenda, and the meeting participants.

Many of us call for a meeting almost as a matter of routine. Some even feel they haven’t put in a good days’ work if they don’t call for or attend a few meetings during the day.

I am, of course, assuming the following basic steps:

  1. You have thought about it and decided that the meeting is really necessary because meetings cost a lot of money
  2. You have identified that what you want to achieve is too cumbersome or cannot be achieved by phone or email – without a face-to-face interaction

Here are a few questions you might like to ask yourself while planning for the meeting:-

  • Is the meeting to solve a problem?
  • Is it to keep people informed of what’s going on?
  • Is it to get feedback ?
  • Is it to measure progress on implementation of earlier decisions?
  • Is it to celebrate an event or fulfill a social obligation like welcoming a new person or introducing a new collaborator?

As you can see, a lot of thinking goes into preparation for a meeting. Make sure you plan for a time-effective meeting. Too short a meeting may not be worth the time spent to get there. Too long will make it boring and physically exhausting for the participants.

Remember the old adage: The mind can retain only as much as the seat can endure !

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