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Last Updated on November 27, 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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Last Updated on April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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