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Make the Most Out of Meetings

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Specializes in Leadership | Psychiatric Nursing | Education. Has 22 years experience.

Oh no, not another meeting. Meetings are essential for effective communication and gaining insight from your team, but sometimes they can seem as if they’re nothing but a waste of time. Investing a little time in preparation prior, and coordination during, the meeting can help to ensure the time is productive, and well spent.

Make the Most Out of Meetings

Committees, conferences and staff meetings-oh my! There are some days when it might feel like all you do is attend meetings. Meetings can be a great way to efficiently communicate, gain feedback or spark creative conversation if they're structured effectively. If not, they might end up feeling like a distraction from your real priorities and can take up a huge amount of time.

Your time is valuable. How can you make meetings more productive and time saving, instead of time wasting? Whether you're the facilitator, or an attendee, consider implementing these suggestions when you feel as if you're drowning in meetings.

Five Meeting Rights

Planning is an important aspect of preparing for a meeting. If you're attending, asking the right questions can help ensure you make the most of your time and let your supervisor know you value productivity. If you just show up and hope for the best you might waste your time, and everyone else's, until you hit your stride.

Right purpose

Consider the meeting's purpose, and the goal. If it's only to share information and not gain feedback or other input, consider if an email, or a memo, would be more efficient.

  • Prepare an agenda of essential points to structure discussion
  • Allow extra time for discussion and unexpected topics.
  • Include time for initial greetings and networking. Spontaneous conversation can often be as important as the meeting itself for improving teamwork, gaining cooperation and increasing morale.

Right people

Determine the key people who should attend. If you're uncertain whether someone needs to be in attendance you could:

  • Provide them with the option of attending and determining if this is a valuable use of their time.
  • Don't have them sit through irrelevant information. Invite them for part of the meeting
  • Consider if it's more effective to share the information after the meeting rather than have them attend.

Right format

Your goals can help you decide what format, and location, would be most effective. Perhaps consider if an unconventional, or casual, setting might be beneficial to inject a shot of creativity into the conversation.

  • Provide handouts, or an outline, to enable people to listen rather than take notes.
  • Consider travel costs and convenience if you want to ensure maximum attendance. A few meeting options include:
    1. Conference call
    2. In person
    3. Webinar
    4. Zoom or Skype

Right time

Consider the time of day and the time length for your meeting. If it's over lunchtime, inform your attendees whether they can bring lunch, or if food is provided. Let attendees know the time length and challenge everyone to stick to it. Think of creative methods for redirection to achieve this such as:

  • Use a timer with each agenda topic
  • Assign the roles of timekeeper and notetaker. If it's an ongoing meeting, consider rotating these roles.
  • If someone is monopolizing the conversation, veering off topic, or refusing to move on to the next item use the, "enough let's move on" method. Choose a cute item to take the sting out of interrupting, such as an Elmo doll, or a white flag, to toss on the table to refocus the conversation.

Right frequency

It might take a little trial and error to get the meeting frequency just right.

  • Too little and the meetings might end up being longer than you desire, or information might get missed, or forgotten.
  • Too often and people can turn into a bear when there seems to be no end to meetings.

Do an Assessment

There is value in the act of the meeting itself. They can be a great opportunity for building teamwork, bonding, networking, collaboration, reflection or brainstorming.

  • Just talking doesn't provide the same benefits as listening. Don't focus too much on what's next and miss what's going on now.
  • Use the opportunity to build, and not crush, team morale.
  • Encourage participation by going around the table, assigning topics for individuals on the agenda, or asking them to present information from a conference or project.
  • Meetings can outlive their purpose. Make sure your meeting hasn't CTB by asking for feedback. Use open-ended questions such as what they found valuable, or what needs improvement in the meeting structure. Consider an anonymous survey if you want to ensure honest feedback.

Foster Positive Outcomes

With a little planning and preparation, meetings can be a great way to return to work motivated with clear steps to meet your goals and to foster collaboration and teamwork. If all else fails, sharing, a little chocolate can go a long way.

What Are Your Tips for a More Productive Meeting?

Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN draws from years of experience in nursing administration, leadership and psychiatric nursing to write healthcare content. Her experience as a fiction author helps her to craft engaging and creative content. Learn more about her freelance writing at CharmedType.com and her fiction books at MaureenBonatch.com

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