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How To Design More Effective Meetings -- Part I


An article in Forbes magazine cites research from a Salary.com survey of U.S. professionals who ranked meetings as the number one office productivity killer.

Statistics show that we spend an average of 35-50% of our time at work in meetings (the number varies by one’s role in an organization), and billions of dollars (some research suggests the number is as high as $25-27 billion annually) are spent on unproductive meetings.


It’s something that I constantly hear from clients – “we waste so much time in unproductive meetings.”


I believe one of the main reasons for this is that people don’t put much time, effort, or discipline into planning meetings.


It’s a simple equation:


No time and effort upfront = wasted time and resources on the back end

A meeting should have thoughtful planning and preparation, and attendees should walk away feeling that the time spent in the meeting was productive and worth their time.


So What’s the Plan?


While there is no single solution to effective meeting planning and design, there are some basic steps that everyone can take to make their meetings more engaging and successful.


Decide on a meeting objective and stick to it!


An objective is like a road map -- it will help you to arrive at your meeting’s intended destination. If you don’t have a destination in mind for your meeting, you risk ending up at many different places.


To write an objective…just complete this sentence:


At the end of this meeting I want the group (or person) to …


As you’re thinking about your meeting objective consider the possible outcomes you want from the meeting: a decision, status report, brainstorm ideas, a pitch, communicate something, a plan, etc. then write your objective to help everyone attending the meeting understand the purpose of the meeting, and the intended destination.


Here’s an example of a meeting objective: At the end of our 10am “Roll-Out” Plan meeting on Friday, I want the group to agree on, and draft the roll-out plan for our new customer experience strategy.


Be specific when writing your objective, and state what you want because of having the meeting. Add the objective, or the main idea of the objective to the title if want to reinforce it.

In my next blog, I will talk about the next step – designing the meeting agenda.

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