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Stage meetings for maximum impact

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in Meeting Management,Office Management

The setting for team meetings matters more than you may think. If the group always gathers in the same room, a "same old, same old" mentality can sink in and stymie creativity.

What's worse, if you hold all team meetings in a conference room next door to your office, it sends an implicit message to the group that your needs come before theirs. They may resent you for making them schlep to a site that's convenient for you (but not for them!).

You can irritate your team members further if you make them wait for your late arrival—or if you derail the agenda by bringing up unrelated issues. Also beware of dominating the discussion by imposing your views.

Savvy managers take a different approach. They rotate the location of team meetings so that they're held in various sites throughout the organization. At a big company, for instance, you might reserve rooms in the marketing department in June, the underwriting department in July and the billing department in August.

Better yet, invite a representative of each unit to attend each meeting. A marketing specialist can enliven the June gathering by, say, presenting a new branding campaign or leading a quick tour of that department.

Limit your speaking in these sessions. Establish goals, pose questions and keep everyone on track. The rest of the time, allow the group to share information and hash out ideas.

During the meeting, strive for one-sentence redirections. Examples include, "Let's table this discussion and return to the most pressing issue on the agenda" or "I think we've covered that for now, but we haven't resolved the previous question of which strategy makes the most sense."

Adopting a less-is-more approach to facilitation keeps the focus on the team. They won't rely on you to save the day if they see that you're going to hold them accountable for results. 

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