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Keys to Shorter Meetings

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in Meeting Management,Office Management

You want to cover as much as possible, but marathon meetings take up valuable business hours and often leave participants frustrated or bored. Achieve better results in less time with these three strategies:

Plan the agenda.

Send out a schedule ahead of time detailing each issue you plan to dis­cuss. This heads-up allows partici­pants to form thoughts on the topics and arrive ready to contribute. Preparing an agenda also forces you to consider what you really want to accomplish, ensures important matters aren’t forgotten and offers a basis for judging whether you are trying to cover too much.

Empower a timekeeper.

Budget a certain amount of time to each agenda item, and stick to that allotment. Assign someone to keep an eye on the clock and periodically remind the group how much time remains before the next topic must be started. When the time is up, make it clear that discussion on the matter is to cease.

For hot-button issues, consider allotting each participant a certain amount of time to speak. Respon­dents are more likely to be more suc­cinct and on track when only granted minutes to state their case.

Appoint a topic monitor.

During the meeting, worthwhile topics that aren’t on the agenda may arise. These tangents may be valuable but disrupt the flow. State from the meeting’s onset that dis­cussions are to remain on target and that other subjects will get their due at another time.

Marlene Caroselli, EdD, a corporate trainer and author of Meetings that Work, suggests select­ing a topic monitor. This person is in charge of speaking up when dis­cussion veers off course. He or she also can be responsible for main­taining “The Parking Lot,” a record of important topics that were brought up but not relevant to the current agenda. Retrieve this paper at meeting’s end, and you’ll have a good basis to begin planning your next effective meeting!


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