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Rescue the boss from meeting hell

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in Workplace Communication

Meetings are notorious time-wasters, so protect your boss from ineffective sit-downs. When someone invites your boss to a meeting, ask these five questions:

1. "Would you send over the agenda?" Tell the meeting organizer that your boss likes to see the agenda at least a day before the meeting, so she can prepare.

If there is no agenda, your boss may not want to attend. A meeting without an agenda is like a rudderless ship: It's likely to veer off in a dozen directions.

2. "What's the purpose (or goal) of the meeting?" If you hear, "We just want to discuss ... " your boss may prefer to review the minutes rather than attend. She may also suggest that attendees go beyond "discuss." "Discuss and decide" would be a much better use of everyone's time.

3.  "Who else is attending?" The answer is telling: You'll know whether the group will be small enough to be truly effective (eight or fewer), or large and unwieldy. And you'll know whether the right people have been invited. Without key people in the room, a meeting can turn into a waste of time.

4. "What is my boss's role?" With a precise, time-conscious agenda, you can determine when your boss is needed in the room. Ask if she can depart early, at a time when the meeting turns to an issue that doesn't involve her.

5. "How should my boss prepare?" Pass along any report or background reading needed in advance. An organized meeting planner will make sure that attendees have done their homework before gathering everyone in a room.

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