"Help, somebody get me out of here..."

  • How to organise meetings that no one wants to get out of?
  • Whom not to invite to meetings?
  • How long should meetings last?
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If you’re a manager, you must have been to many meetings where you asked yourself, “why am I here? Why are we having this meeting at all?” Perhaps it really didn’t make sense, perhaps it just wasn’t for you, or perhaps it was just poorly organised and poorly run. Managers are expected to have many skills. They are supposed to be able to manage efficiently manage, to motivate, to analyse, to draw conclusions, and to plan the company’s development. And then... Then, unfortunately, they usually convene a terribly boring and ineffective meeting where they talk about it all and waste everyone’s time. If you prefer to hold meetings that are both effective and interesting, I have a few practical tips to offer you.

1] Define a clear purpose for the meeting

When organising any meeting, first answer the simplest and most important question: Why am I doing this? Seems obvious and trivial? Well, it’s the basics that usually trip us up...Think about the purpose of the meeting and what you want to get out of it. For example, if you want to convey certain information or talk about a new development idea, think about whether a meeting is the best way to do that. Perhaps a good old e-mail would suffice, and would be much, much faster. When setting your goal, make sure you can state it in one sentence and make sure it’s clear not only to you, but to everyone who’s participating in the meeting.

2] Invite the right people

It’s a common mistake to invite half of the company to a meeting without considering whether each person really needs to be present and whether they will have something to contribute. It’s important that only those who will make a real substantive contribution attend the meeting, and that they are there because of their competence in the area in question, and not because of their particular job titles. Also consider which people will offer real support during the meeting and which will just make life difficult. There’s no point in hiding that every company has people who are focused on finding positive solutions as well as people with a ‘no can do’ mentality. Don’t invite the latter if you don’t have to. Not only will they make your work as a moderator difficult, but they will also discourage other participants. Your work will be less effective, and you’ll certainly be less willing to meet again.Also, don’t overdo it with the number of participants. If you’re organising a short meeting just to provide some information, you can probably invite a larger group without causing problems. However, if you want to work creatively, look for solutions, or organise a mastermind meeting, try not to invite more than five people. More participants will just make the meeting ineffective. There’s an exception to this rule: if you know how to lead and manage workshop groups, you can try with a group of up to 12 people. However, it’ll be a typical workshop, requiring strict moderation and lasting between two and eight hours.

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