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Posted at: Apr 11, 2018, 12:09 AM; last updated: Apr 11, 2018, 12:09 AM (IST)OFFICE MANTRA

Ace meetings at work

Can meetings be made more effective to carve out a win-win situation for all stakeholders?

Swati Rai

The advantages of having a meeting at work can never be overstated. These help employees share common goals, update each other on projects and offer solutions. Meetings can, however, also eat up into an individual’s work time.  A middle ground, to resolve this, therefore becomes mandatory. While most workplaces have a cap on duration and a slated time for a meeting; but there’s no escaping these at work. ‘Death by meetings’ however can be skirted, by following a few simple must dos.

Talk time

It is best to slot a meeting in the afternoon, post employees have settled at work. Also, it helps to set the time limit for a meeting. Assign fixed time  and do not exceed the frequency of meetings agreed upon. This lends consistency and seriousness to the meetings and ensures maximum participation. 

Harness technology

It’s not always that a face-to-face meeting with all involved in a project or an assignment is mandatory. Holding a meeting with people working in remote locations or freelancing is certainly not a possibility.  Choosing technology and the many websites that facilitate meetings by way of video links is the answer. Not only is it time saving, also provides platform to connect without incurring any extra costs. 

Formal or informal setting

Not all project updates, discussions and feedback require formal sit-down meetings. Catching up over coffee, or a casual meeting  is sufficient sometimes for getting major issues out of the way and starting the day afresh. 

Focus on solutions

Discussing roadblocks and hurdles should be the agenda of a meeting. This way everyone at the meeting will focus on utilising time beneficially. Attendees will seek answers to questions or come up with solutions that will increase work productivity. Most believe that solution-based approach is the key to efficient use of time in meetings.

Before and after of a meeting

Setting boundaries before a meeting, such as cap on the use of phone, laptops or any other device, should be clearly communicated to all. Checking out the venue, whetting the attendee list beforehand, fixing break time, having a short, structured format and sticking to it is crucial for a successful meeting. Post the meeting, a mail confirming the actions to be taken, time specification for the task assigned and requesting feedback is a good follow-up action.

Clarity of thought, language

Mastering the language for meetings is another way of managing them well. Shoot down digressions but politely, resolve conflict among participants, set agenda, discuss expectations and close meetings on a collaborative note to make it a successful one. Productive meetings save time, focus on solutions, are inclusive in nature and are time bound. 

Facilitation is the key

Meetings can sometimes become opportunities for a happy catch-up between colleagues, who haven’t met in a while. The responsibility of maintaining and sticking to the agenda and noting down the follow-up actions is of the facilitator, who really is the maker or breaker of such meetings. Also, it is the job of the facilitator or the chairperson to involve everyone while seeking inputs. Failing to do so would result in uninterested participants and less attendees in the next meeting. If you are a facilitator, take notes, have clear action points for those responsible and most importantly, share them soon after the meeting is over. 

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