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How to Lead Effective and Productive Meetings

In corporate life, participating in many meetings is part of the package.

“Too many meetings” you might say.

Let’s be honest – it might not only be the number of meetings that is the problem, but also the quality of the meetings caused by poor meeting management. For you to become a better leader of meetings, I here share my best insights on how to lead meetings effectively and with high productivity.

As for most other activities, there is a planning/preparation phase, the actual activity – the meeting and a follow-up.

1. Planning

The best meetings begin long before the actual meeting takes place. Because it requires preparation to host a successful meeting. The first thing you need to do is to define the purpose of the meeting as well as set goals for what you want to achieve. This is relevant and important for the outcome of the meeting regardless of whether it is a weekly team meeting or it is an approval of a business-critical project that is at stake. Purpose and goal will guide you in who to invite for the meeting and what the agenda will look like. Prepare an agenda and send it along with the invitation to relevant participants. If the agenda is clear and participants know what you want to achieve participants will be more engaged during the meeting.

2. The Meeting

If you have prepared an agenda and sent it along with the meeting invitation there is no need for a long introduction to the meeting – all participants already know what you are going to discuss and why they have been invited. So, to get the meeting well started instead of presenting purpose, etc, it is a good idea to open the meeting with a brief check-in to make sure that all participants are mentally present and ready for the meeting. It could be to ask everyone to share one thing that made them smile this morning or it could be sharing success from the past week. If it is a big meeting with many participants and there is no time to hear from all, it could be asking everyone to put away their phones and laptops and ask all to write down how they want to contribute to the meeting. There are numerous options to get participants in the zone for the meeting. Having a small little exercise like this helps every one to get focused on the meeting and it turns out that the little time spent here actually increases focus and productivity during the meeting.

Next thing is to make sure to appoint someone to take minutes to ensure a common understanding of decisions taken during the meeting. The minutes do not have to be lengthy, and they can contain as little as agreed action, deadline, and who is responsible for each action.

Follow the agenda. Make sure that all participants get a chance to speak during the meeting. Not all will speak up without being asked, so make sure to ask all for input. As you have well-considered who should participate, everyone’s input is relevant.

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