Written By: Steve Fernlund 

There are two kinds of meetings in your business, the planned meeting and the meeting-after-the-meeting. One you can control, but the other you need to aware of too. 

To make planned meetings more effective you should have a written agenda-even for your periodic sales and staff meetings. 

Without an agenda, and a preset length of time for the meeting, groups tend to go off in all kinds of directions. 

The humorous side conversations divert energy from the purpose of the meeting and can overtake any meaningful discussions.   

The extrovert participant who talks out every idea, and expresses opinions on every topic, is impossible to manage without an agenda. 

The nay-sayers who hope to gain an advantage by pointing out all the negative things about your business, especially if they involve someone not in the meeting. 

All of a sudden a half-hour meeting lasts for two hours. No clear actions are taken. And the meeting after the meeting loses additional productivity talking through how the recent two hours were a waste of time. 

Have two specific purposes for your meetings-sharing information and taking action. When you start the meetings, remind everyone why they are there and what the Mission of your business is. Focus on those things that help implement your mission. 

Limit each participant, including yourself, to a specific time period and issues. If action is expected you should plan a set time for discussion and gather input from each participant before a decision is finalized. “Robert’s Rules of Order” are useful in this area

Finally, keep the minutes of your meetings. These can’t be verbatim transcripts of every discussion but they should, at least, list critical business metrics shared, decisions made, and actions assigned to a specific individual(s).

If you follow the recommendations here for your planned meetings you will find that the meeting-after-the-meeting will tend to be focused on implementing your business objectives and not on comparing you to the Pointy-Haired Boss in the Dilbert cartoons.

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