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5 Ways You're STILL Wasting Time In Your Meetings (and how to change that!)

Meet John:

smartphone sitting on nightstand

Today is the day!

“Beep beep beep,” the smartphone alarm breaks the long silence of slumber, waking John up for another work day. As his thoughts start to converge, it hits him: this is not just “another work day,” it’s the biggest meeting of his young career.

John has always been a hard worker; he’s often the first one in the office and last one to leave, always completing his work in a timely manner, and sometimes even helping co-workers to make their deadlines.

Yet despite his work ethic, John has always been... overlooked. He was the last one in his class to be promoted, and has always struggled to receive any attention from his superiors.

But all that ends today. This is the chance that John has been waiting for.

“Okay John, take a deep breath,” John mumbles to himself, quietly eating his cereal. A drop of milk runs down the side of his chin, but he is too preoccupied to notice -- all he can think about is the big meeting.

“There’s a lot at stake, and this meeting has to go perfectly. I should to go over the steps to success for a significant meeting”.

#1 Preparing My Attendees Beforehand

The people make the meeting: That’s why I must make sure to invite everyone that is necessary, and double check the attendee list. This way, decisions can be made in the meeting.

I’ve also sent out an email with all the presentation materials and resources that my meeting will need. Since there will be a lot to talk about, I have made sure all of the preliminary work has been completed.

#2 Having A Good Agenda

Having and distributing a pre-constructed agenda is the most important factor in a successful meeting, as it allows you to define goals, alert others, and take control of my conference.

My agenda also includes a personal checklist to help me moderate the pace of the conference.

Attendees only have limited attention spans, so time management is crucial!

#3 Creating An Inclusive Meeting Environment

When the meeting starts, I will tell all of my members to turn off any unnecessary technologies. Since there are many important decisions that have to be made, the last thing I need are distractions, and smartphones can be the biggest portal for those.

I’ll also need to make sure that everyone has a chance to speak, and feels comfortable being honest with our situation.

Always stay on topic.

#4 Using "The Parking Lot"

Speaking of staying on topic, the Parking Lot can be a saving grace for a meeting gone awry, since it assures the revisiting of “worthy” subjects while giving me the license to steer the conversation back towards the agenda.

If a meeting participant brings up an issue that is not relevant to the agenda, I will write down their idea in the Parking Lot section of the agenda, and tell them we can revisit it later.

#5 Following Up

With any luck, the meeting will go smoothly, and will accomplish all of its objectives -- but there is always a chance that something will not go according to plan.

I will need to finish strong by re-stating all of the action plans that have been agreed to during the meeting, including who has been assigned each task and what their deadline is.

I will also be sure to share all information and decisions with any non-attendees, so they are not left out of the loop.


John chuckles softly, patting himself on the back...

“Good talk. I’ve done all that I can for the biggest event of my career. Hopefully the hard work will pay off.”

After dabbing the corners of his mouth with a nearby napkin, he gets up from the coffee table and leaves the kitchen.

John puts on his lucky suit and tie, takes a deep breath, and walks out the door.

It is sunny.

man dressed up in suit and tie preparing for important conference call Meeting Checklist Banner

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