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Last Updated on September 9, 2020

10 Key Elements of Effective Meetings to Avoid Wasting Time

10 Key Elements of Effective Meetings to Avoid Wasting Time

Effective meetings are one of the ways of discussing and solving problems, not just in a company but in any organization. Be it the boss or the employees, anyone can contribute and speak.

Although meetings are necessary tools for productivity, some meetings just do not work out and end up wasting everyone’s time and energy.

There are simplified methods and elements for running an efficient and effective meeting, 10 of which will be presented here.

1. Define a Clear Purpose for the Meeting

Before calling for a meeting, you must first ask:

Why and what for?

A meeting will only be effective if its purpose and goals are clear, whether it’s resolving a dispute between employees or discussing a company crisis. This also involves reaching a certain outcome, and this outcome is most likely related to the purpose.

A clear purpose must be planned before sending out the invites to the involved people. Make sure you know exactly why you’re meeting and the hoped-for result.

2. Invite Only the Necessary People

Having only the necessary people as meeting participants is another step towards an effective meeting.

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Does the purpose of the meeting have something to do with the network security of the company? Invite the head of the IT department.

Does the purpose of the meeting have something to do with the future of the company? Invite your boss and the employees involved.

Only people who are directly connected to the expected outcome should attend the meeting. That way, you will not waste other people’s time and productivity. This will also keep the numbers as low as possible, which means less interruptions and distractions.

3. Approve a Final Schedule

When you’re working to run effective meetings, create an agenda for the meeting. This should include action items, venue, start and end time, and the people involved. Then, send the memorandum to the necessary people via email, or place it on their desk.

Do not wait for people who are running late, and ensure that the meeting starts on time. This may not be easy at first, especially if you are the lenient type. But you’ll realize that this is important not only for you but for other people as well.

People will be more comfortable with a meeting if the agenda is laid in front of them. This will also lessen trivial matters, such as unnecessary introductions or the insertion of random questions.

4. Create a Rule Against Smartphones or Tablets

It is hard to compete for the attention of people, especially when they are using their phones or tablets.

Multitasking is already a problematic thing in itself, but it’s worse when you have to compete with devices specially designed to catch people’s attention. Research shows that multitasking between different media results in poorer information processing and lower performance and productivity.

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In one study, “Results showed that heavy media multitaskers are more susceptible to interference from irrelevant environmental stimuli and from irrelevant representations in memory”[1].

To ensure that meeting-goers will be focusing on the agenda, ban the use of smartphones and tablets so that each participant focuses on the task at hand.

5. Assign a Moderator

Even though you are the one who plans the meeting, this does not mean that you are also the moderator.

You should think about if you are the most suitable person to moderate the meeting or if someone else could do it better. This will likely depend on the topic. Don’t hesitate to assign other qualified people to be the moderator if you feel it’s best for productivity[2].

Of course, the moderator should be someone who knows how to run effective meetings. The moderator should also act as a timekeeper and watch the correct flow of the meeting, making sure the agenda is on track. Chances are, the meeting will be more successful this way.

6. Have Fewer, Better Meetings

Rather than calling a meeting every time there is a problem or dispute in the company, find other ways to resolve those problems.

There are many alternatives to meetings that are more effective and efficient than having suboptimal meetings. Sending an email or talking to the responsible people are just some of the ways through which you can opt out of meetings.

You can find more ideas for alternatives to meetings in this article.

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If you call in as few meetings as possible, the participants will be more enthusiastic about attending. You must ensure the quality of your meetings, and you can do this by avoiding unnecessary ones.

7. Separate Eating Time From Meeting Time

Doing other things during a meeting will decrease everyone’s attention, and this includes eating. It can be a good idea to declare an eating time thirty minutes to an hour before the meeting time. This will ensure that people will not eat during the meeting, which then avoids further distractions.

During the meal or eating time, everyone can eat and make small talk. But during the meeting, everyone should focus on the agenda at hand and brainstorm together.

This way, you can follow your plan, dedicate your attention to fulfilling the purpose of the meeting, and manage your time wisely.

8. Review the Decisions of the Meeting

During the final five to ten minutes of the meeting, go through any decisions made and actions taken. A clear understanding between the participants and the purpose of the meeting must be met before everyone leaves. This ensures that everyone has their queries satisfied and their contributions included.

It also offers an opportunity for anyone to express final doubts or questions, or to share information that is relevant to the decisions, which is all key for effective meetings.

The moderator should clear up any disagreements between participants before the end of the meeting, and they should come up with concise solutions to their problems. It is important that everyone absorbs what was discussed in the meeting.

9. Send a Follow-Up Note to Every Participant

“The faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory.” -Chinese Proverb

Every participant has their own problems outside of the meeting. This is why some people often forget some things, even if they’re important. To ensure that people will remember what was discussed in the meeting, send a follow-up note via email, or leave it on their desk.

This should be short and sweet, covering what was discussed and the conclusions that were reached. It can also include a quick “thank you” for their participation.

10. Send Out an Evaluation Sheet

We must admit that not everyone loves the idea of meetings. For those people, we must find ways to ensure that they will be comfortable whenever they are included in a meeting.

Some of them won’t say what the problems are if asked directly, so an evaluation sheet is a handy tool to get their feedback.

Check out this article for more information on why feedback is so important.

Check the feedback of the participants, incorporate requests of the participants into the next meeting, and change any process that causes discomfort. To run effective meetings, ensuring that people feel comfortable is key.

Final Thoughts

Meetings are important, but it doesn’t mean that they are always productive. It’s important to first learn how to run successful meetings before expecting everything to go smoothly.

Remember that an effective meeting is a process where everyone must cooperate.

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These 10 simple tips on how to run effective meetings will surely help you become a better leader and teammate. Now go ahead and incorporate these tips into your daily meeting routine and let the productivity flow.

More Tips on How to Run Effective Meetings

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

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Lianne Martha Maiquez Laroya

Lianne is a licensed financial advisor, Registered Financial Planner, entrepreneur and book author.

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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