By Jami Gibson

How can one make meetings effective and enjoyable? Too often, meetings produce a feeling of dread whether it’s due to feeling unprepared or worrying that it will drag on, putting a time crunch on the work day. To someone who would rather be “doing” than talking, meetings can feel like an unproductive activity. However, completing a few simple tasks prior to and during a gathering can make all the difference in their outcome.

Prior to a meeting…

Determine meeting leader. One person should be in charge of calling the meeting for a precise purpose, ensuring members stay on track, and adhering to a timeline.

Define meeting goals. Create clear objectives to discuss in support of meeting goals. If the goals are not spelled out, your time will be squandered trying to determine a direction to take, which will lead to a need for subsequent meetings. If there is no goal, there is no need for a meeting.

Create a meeting agenda. Every effective meeting has an agenda. Stick to it. It is the responsibility of the meeting leader to guide members according to the agenda and ensure the conversation doesn’t go off on a tangent.

Keep it short. Set aside a time limit for the meeting that is brief yet gives enough time to cover all agenda items adequately. The meeting will run as long as the time allotted, so in the interest of staying focused, keep meeting lengths to a minimum time slot.

During the meeting…

Take meeting minutes. It seems tedious, but it doesn’t have to be. If you prep for a meeting and adhere to the agenda, minute-taking should be relatively simple. They record ideas, decisions, and conclusions to your objectives and goals. They can also be effective for determining if time is being wasted on non-related topics. Following the meeting, minutes should be distributed to all present members.

Discuss follow-up. Determine if and when another meeting is necessary. There’s no need to come together at a specified time period (daily, weekly, monthly, etc) if there are no new goals or results to report.

Unproductive and inefficient meetings beget more unproductive and inefficient meetings. Don’t get stuck in that rut! These tips can save you from wasting valuable time and energy during your workday.