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5 Meeting Rules You'll Actually Want to Adopt

On paper, meetings are supposed to be actionable, positive, focused, and critical--but that’s hardly the case in practice. Do your meetings have the spark and magic necessary to galvanize all those present? Or is it a lackluster affair where members are counting down the minutes till they can turn to something they find more interesting?

Communication methods are usually a problem. While it poses few problems to craft a business plan through a series of emails, the end result is often bland and lacking in creativity.

The same can be said of one-on-one meetings. If you are looking for the sort of enthusiasm which characterizes successful ventures, and guarantees actionable outcomes, then team meetings are the way to go. However, without proper structure even team meetings will fail to meet their potential.

team meeting

Here are 5 rules that will guarantee that will ensure your meetings stay on track, on pace, and provide you will the outcomes that you desire:

  1. Start with an Agenda
    If you begin your meeting without a clearly written out plan on how you are going to fill the allotted time then you are already sunk. Request that team members send agenda items at least a day before the scheduled meeting time; take these items and use them to form an agenda. Ensure that on your agenda there is adequate time for strategic conversations, and that the flow of topics feels right. Leave the topics that require the deepest discussions to the end of the agenda.
  1. Plan for Takeaways
    What are the takeaways and the consensus which you want members to leave with from your meeting? Keep them in mind. Perhaps you want someone to volunteer for a new initiative or you want to let the team know about a new direction you have chosen which will impact their work. If you expect some push back, come with a partner with you who will help bolster your point. If an item on your agenda has no clear actionables, shelve it and mark it for a later date.
  1. Respect Time to the Max
    To avoid wasting people’s time and leaving people frustrated, decide on how much time each part of your agenda should take and and allot time accordingly. Be strict about keeping conversations in check and moving the agenda along so that there are no holdups. If the meeting needs 30 minutes, then allocate that time and maybe a few extra for contingencies.
  1. Consider a Drive-By
    If you just need to chat with a few people over an easy topic, try finding an opportunity for a stand up meeting. Rendezvous around a desk or in a common area where you can quickly thrash things out and allow people to go about their day. With this simple stand-up meeting you would have made important decisions, updated the team, and reduced the overall inefficiency within the office--all in the same amount of time it would take you to take a walk and get a cup of coffee. These drive-bys can helpful in distilling ideas into the length of an elevator pitch--and while this may be uncomfortable for some people, the teams that can pull them off usually become much more agile.
  1. Keep It Moving
    Keep your eye on the end result which you need to keep your projects flowing, whether it is approval from a superior, someone aggreeing to take responsibility for a task or even merely consensus from the team on a direction being taken. Keep your meetings focused and actionable by taking note of takeaways and next steps, as well as the name of the party responsible for deliverables.

Your meeting does not have to be boring. With these 5 rules you can implement a forward moving culture, positivity, and respect within the organization which is sure to pay dividends both in the present and going forward. Implement these tips through out your organization and recapture your time and pro

The word 'meeting' doesn't have to be a negative concept. Instead, use these 5 meeting rules to adopt a culture of forward motion, positivity, and respect within the organization that will drive success both now and in the future. This isn't a one-time change to how you approach meetings, but an organization-wide initiative to take back your time and productivity. 

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