How To Avoid The Bad Meeting Trap

The following is a guest post by Maki Nishiyama.

There’s something about the word ‘meeting’ that ignites a particular spark in people.

Sometimes the response can be disdain, anxiety and at best, indifference. Funnily enough though, we all know that meetings are a necessary evil. Whether you’re a freelancer or business owner, meetings are crucial for planning, checking on work progress and troubleshooting any issues. But there’s nothing quite like a bad meeting.

Bad meetings can drain your productivity and leave you feeling more confused than when you went into the meeting. More of a setback than a boost, these kinds of meetings can leave you with a major headache. Here are four useful tips to avoid the bad meeting trap:

1. Prepare

We all know the importance of preparation, but the key is to prepare for the purpose of the meeting. Define the objective of the meeting so that everybody is on board about why they need to attend and what they need to prepare.

Preparation is also in the details. You might be meeting at an unfamiliar place so small things like making sure that your meeting space is well equipped with everything you need can make all the difference.

2. Communicate

Be clear and concise when communicating to others about the meeting. Let everyone know in advance when the meeting is happening, the agenda and what they need to bring. Be conscious that others have their own schedules to maintain so give everyone enough time to prepare.

Touching base with people before you organize the meeting can also save you some time further down the track. There’s nothing worse than having a meeting when the tasks from the last meeting haven’t been finished yet!

3. Facilitate

You’ve got your meeting agenda, now stick to it. Sometimes when you put everyone in the same room, things can get out of hand pretty quickly. Playing the blame game, talking (shouting) over each other or just generally derailing the discussions can turn a 30 minute meeting into a two-hour brawl.

Allocate time to each agenda item and facilitate the meeting so you keep the group on track. Going off topic? Take note of any issues that pop up that aren’t on the agenda and schedule them for the next meeting. Just make sure to assure that rest of your group that these issues will be addressed later on.

4. Wrap Up

One of the most common bad meeting traps is letting everybody leave without wrapping up. More often than not, by the end of the meeting most people just want to leave. But before they do, make a point of getting everyone on the same page about what they’re next steps are, who’s doing what and by what date.

Don’t let bad meetings affect your work. With these four key tips in mind, you can avoid those lifeless and unproductive meetings that no one wants to attend.

Photo credit: atomicjeep via photopin cc