How to get the most out of meetings

How to get the most out of meetings

Business meetings are a common expectation of many corporate or white-collar jobs. Unfortunately, they can become stale, monotonous, or listless without an infusion of energetic effort.

While the meeting organizer is responsible for ensuring that all goes well, attendees also play a role in determining positive outcomes. Here are some tips to help you benefit from your workplace meetings.

1. Prepare in advance. Review the agenda or ask the person in charge of what to expect if you did not receive an agenda. Read pertinent materials or attachments and be ready to ask questions and discuss topics.

2. Be physically prepared. If a meeting occurs first thing in the morning or after hours over dinner, come without looking or acting tired or overwhelmed. Save part of the day’s energy for the meeting, knowing that when several minds assemble, great things can be accomplished, but only when everyone is willing to do their part.

3. Bring resources. Suggested reading for other attendees, publications such as handbooks or references, and a list of questions or suggestions can add a rich dimension to the proceedings. Don’t just sit there like a bump on a log. Get invested before, during, and after the meeting. Make the time spent in this endeavor count toward enhancing your job performance and improving company productivity.

4. Take a role. If volunteers are needed to chair, record proceedings, look up supplemental information, or consult an expert, offer your help to get things done. Not only does your help make you more visible to others, thus enhancing your image as a leader within the company, but you will also gain insight into the topic and be able to apply it to improved job performance.

5. Seek clarity. Some people leave meetings feeling unmoved at best or confused at worst. If you come away dissatisfied, contact the chair or organizer to go over the high points again. Say, “I appreciate the time you spent bringing us up to date on this project, but I still have a few questions. Mind if I ask them now?” You also may be able to email comments or questions.

6. Offer feedback. If the meeting results in a waste of everyone’s time, be willing to help prepare materials for the next get-together or offer to co-chair: “Organizing these things can be a headache. Would you like some help next time?” Sometimes organizers aren’t sure how to run a meeting and may appreciate your ideas.

7. Follow up after the meeting. Put into practice new techniques, strategies, or policies after the meeting, consulting handouts or resources for help if needed. Too often attendees will leave a session without any intention of implementing the new material. That is a double waste of time. Unless the new information is flawed in some way, plan to use it immediately.

8. Organize your own meeting. If you have found some helpful resources or use a technique that may help others, speak to a supervisor about offering a training session or brief meeting to get others acquainted with your idea. Chances are they will appreciate it and everyone will benefit.

Business meetings need not be futile. Take an active role to ensure that you and others gain the intended advantages so that time and money will not be lost from offering this useful opportunity.

Business meetings

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