[Admin's Note: Here's another guest-post from James Adams. If you are interested in guest-posting, please contact me at marlon@productivitybits .com]

Meetings are an essential part of office life. However, there is no need for them to be as boring as they often seem to be. If you work in one of those offices where meetings are incessant yet nothing ever seems to be accomplished, you probably want to find a way to remedy this situation.

Office meetings are the ideal place to communicate ideas and creativity in order to make the office a more efficient place. Not only can information be communicated at this time, meetings are a great way to get feedback on those ideas. All too often, however, meetings do not accomplish these simple goals.

There are several ways to ensure that meetings are effective, without having to spend excessive amounts of time in the conference room. In order to do this, make sure that you plan your meetings in advance. The following are a series of tips which will help you accomplish your business meeting goals.

Ground Rules And Meeting Agenda

Tip #1: Make sure that you have a firm meeting agenda and that you have communicated this agenda to all of the meeting’s attendees. This allows the participants to plan ahead of schedule and make sure that they are thoroughly prepared. This will save time during the meeting by eliminating the need for introductory talks at the start of the gathering.

Tip #2: Make sure that ground rules are set and enforced for the meeting. There should be a clear slot of time for the meeting and it should not extend longer than that set amount of time. It is best for meetings to last for no longer than one hour unless it is absolutely necessary. After a certain amount of time, it is inevitable that people will begin to lose focus. So keep it short and sweet.

Meeting Structure And Logistics

Tip #3: Make sure that the meeting has one person who will chair the gathering. Even in organizations where there is no clear hierarchy, meetings should never run unstructured. This will lead to longer, less efficient meetings.

Tip #4: Have all of the materials and equipment already set up before the start of the meeting. In addition, make sure that the materials are functioning and that someone at the meeting, preferably the chair, knows how to work all of the equipment.

Tip #5: Make sure that you have chosen an appropriate place to hold the meeting. Of course, it is essential to make sure that that the meeting place is large enough to hold all of the attendees. Less obvious, but just as important, is that the room has sufficient ventilation and lighting as well as the appropriate surfaces for writing and sitting. This will allow the meeting’s participants to stay focused and take the appropriate notes. Also, choose a location for the meeting that is easily accessible for all of those who will be in attendance.

Tip #6: With the onset of the digital age in full force, consider the alternatives to having face-to-face office meetings. Although there are other options, some meetings are best held in person. However, when there is the opportunity to use remote conferencing, this could be an excellent idea. This prevents the need for having to schedule a physical meeting place and can save significant amounts of money as well.

Attendees

Tip #7: Limit the number of attendees to those who are required to be there. Don’t invite everyone in the office to a meeting which is only pertinent to a few. Adding extraneous people can often make the meeting run on for longer than necessary. Plus, there may be other assignments which they may be able to work on while the meeting is in progress.

Meeting Minutes

Tip #8: Distribute the minutes of the meeting soon after it has been completed. Assign someone who will take notes during the meeting and email out the information to all of the attendants. This will make sure that all of the participants keep the information fresh in their mind. This is particularly important if there is going to be a follow-up meeting on the same topic as the meeting that was just held. This will allow the attendees to analyse the discussed information so that they can comment on it at the following meeting.

Note Taking

Tip #9: Have only one or two finite objectives to the meeting. This will make the goals more achievable, keep the participants focused and will keep the meetings from running on for extended periods of time. If the meeting runs on longer than intended, schedule a follow-up meeting so that people will have the time to take a break and regroup their thoughts.

Misc

Tip #10: If you require a longer meeting, have a 10-15 minute break every 45 minutes to an hour. This will permit people to grab a snack or use the restroom so that they do not begin to lose focus.

James works at Office Kitten, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of business equipment.

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