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TYPICAL SCENARIO for a business meeting is that attendees arrive late, more than 15 minutes are wasted on small talk, and pairs of people around the table hold their own private discussions.

Little is achieved. But for many attendees it is a nice break from work.

The answer is not to abandon all meetings. Meetings often are an essential part of conducting an efficient business.

But it remains true that unproductive meetings are wasting millions of dollars in time and meaningless chatter across the country. In small as much as in mid-size and large companies, a meeting is often a diversion in an otherwise busy day that achieves little of substance and results only in the postponement of decisions and action. Surveys show that half of all business meetings are considered a waste of time by those who take part.

It does not have to be that way. A little work put into the preparation of a meeting can go a long way in helping to make it more productive. Check out the steps below to turn your meetings into productive sessions.

How to run a business meeting

that WORKS

Business meetings are often essential; the answer is to make sure they are conducted in the right way.

Steps a manager can take to ensure meetings are more effective:


• Consider whether you really need to have a meeting. If the objective of the meeting is simply to convey information, consider other ways of passing it on, such as email, an office memorandum, or a notice on the bulletin board.


• Make sure the people who attend the meeting are those who are involved in the issues being discussed. Don’t simply invite the same participants each time; each attendee needs to have a relevant role to play.


• Designate a person to run the meeting. Without someone to take charge of the session and keep the discussion on track, the meeting is almost certain to go nowhere.

Steps to take if you lead a meeting:


• Before the meeting, prepare an agenda outlining what will be discussed. During the meeting, make sure the discussions follow the agenda. Ensure that the topics discussed are always relevant to the meeting’s purpose. People will quickly take the meeting down a different path if they can, particularly if it involves a topic on which they have strong feelings. Two actions you can take: Table the topic for a future discussion, which means you don’t ever have to get to it if you consider it irrelevant, or put it on the agenda for the next meeting.


• Give each attendee a copy of the agenda in advance so they can think about the points that will be discussed.


• Set the meeting length in advance. Letting participants know how long the meeting will last – and sticking to it – enables them to schedule their day. If people can talk for as long as they like on a subject, you can be sure they will.


• Take notes of the discussion at the meeting — usually known as minutes. You can do so yourself or designate someone to do so. The minutes should be distributed as soon as possible after the meeting. At the next meeting, it will be important to refer on the minutes to check on who had to do what. Click or tap here to find books on how to take minutes.


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