Staples Business Advantage

7 back-to-work meeting hacks

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On your return to work after a relaxing summer break you’ll hopefully be reinvigorated, refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the year with a fresh appetite for success.

So the last thing anyone wants is for all these good intentions, not to mention the positive energy, to get bogged down in endless meetings that can seem to create more obstacles than solutions. Here are seven simple hacks for more effective meetings.

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1. Set the agenda
Too often meetings veer off course because there’s no clear structure. But if you write a specific agenda, share it before the meeting, and also display it on a whiteboard in the room to maintain everyone’s focus, it will be easier to cover off the essential points in order.

2. Keep attendees to the minimum
It sounds obvious but it’s true. The fewer people you invite to a meeting the quicker and more efficient it will be. So when you draw up a list of people to invite make sure they really are relevant to the matters being discussed and will be able to make a genuine contribution.

3. Get people involved
It’s not enough to simply have the right people there, they need to be engaged too. So if it’s a brainstorm, hand out sticky notes so they can write their ideas down, or make use of a 3M flipchart to take the meeting notes down while everyone’s there.

4. Use a stopwatch
We’ve all been to meetings that never seem to end. Set a time limit – and let attendees know that everything needs to be wrapped up in that time. Have a stopwatch running on the table and ensure everyone can see it – this will help speed things along and keep the agenda on track.

5. Keep standing
When you organise a meeting somewhere that attendees have to stand, it’s usually the case that everyone wants to get through the agenda as quickly as possible. Stand-up meetings are also thought to be a lot more productive.

6. Make it a no-phone zone
Phones and mobile devices are always a distraction. Whether it’s people getting calls they “just have to take” or those looking for information online while the meeting’s going on, it means that you don’t have their full attention. So let everyone know from the outset that it’s no place for phones.

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