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Teamwork skills - effective meetings

One of the most important tools of a team is meetings.However, in order to get the full value of these you must hold only purposeful and effective meetings.One of the biggest complaints in corporate America is attending meetings that don't get anything done.As the team leader, you will be responsible for making these meetings effective.

There are 11 million business meetings each day in the United States.You will be responsible to make sure your meetings are effective even if you are unable to attend the meeting.If you have a weekly scheduled meeting, but you don't have the agenda items to justify the meeting, then cancel it.Only hold a meeting when it is necessary.

Commit to the following guidelines when holding team meetings:

1.Don't Meet
Do not hold a meeting if the same information can be covered in a memo, email or a brief report.Identify the information that must be disseminated and have that sent to the team in another format than a team meeting.Some information needs to be handed down in a meeting to be discussed, but you can minimize these one way flows of information memos.Additionally, ask yourself if this can be disseminated and then have a quick follow-up conference call to answer questions instead of a meeting.A call is not nearly as disruptive to everyone's day as a meeting is.
2. Set Objectives for the Meeting
Make sure you have set objectives for your meeting.Make sure you have objectives for your meeting! Did I say that twice? Well, you can't over emphasize the importance of having objectives for your meeting.Even before you make an agenda, decide what you want to have accomplished by the end of the meeting.The objectives will help you plan the rest of the meeting.Do not plan the meeting and then decide on the objectives.
The more concrete your meeting objectives, the more focused your agenda will be. A second important benefit of having specific objectives for each meeting is that you have a concrete measure against which you can evaluate that meeting.After the meeting you can ask yourself if the objectives were met.If they weren't met, what needs to happen to accomplish those objectives?Also, you will need to answer how to get your meetings to stay on objective next time.
3. Provide an Agenda Beforehand
All meeting participants should receive an agenda before the meeting.This means long enough before the meeting that they have adequate time to prepare.Your agenda should have the objectives on it and a brief description of the topics to be covered and a list stating who will address each topic and for how long. You will also need to have the date and time published for the meeting on the agenda.Last, the agenda needs to be followed closely at the meeting to include the timeline.
4. Assign Meeting Preparation
Each attendee should have an assignment to prepare for the meeting.The assignment will bring new relevance to the team members that attend.They will have to do some homework and prepare instead of viewing the meeting as something they need to sit through until they get back to their other obligations.You will find the team members more engaged in the discussions and topics too.
5. Assign Action Items
Don't finish any discussion in the meeting without deciding how to act on it. The meeting is useless unless you make definite plans to take action.You will also want to assign somebody to take the minutes and record the action items and who is assigned to accomplish those actions.
6. Examine Your Meeting Process
Take the end of the meeting to discuss what went well and what needs to be improved on for the next meeting.Keep the discussion to the point and offer positive action instead of criticism.For instance, instead of ‘Bob talked to long' the comment should be ‘we need team members to be on topic and concise in their comments'.
In summary, meetings can be a wonderful tool if they are planned correctly to be effective.Only have a meeting when it is necessary and have clear objectives with an agenda to meet those objectives.Have each member prepare for the meeting and assign action items during the meeting.Lastly, review how to make the meetings more effective.

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