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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
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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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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