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7 Tips for Making Meetings Work

By Ivory Patten, Trainer and Management Specialist in the UT System Human Resources Office of Employee and Organizational Development.

Ivory Patten
Think back to the last meeting you attended. How prepared were you? How much was accomplished? Be honest—how many times did you check your phone?

Meetings fill an increasing number of hours in the workday, and yet many employees consider them a waste of time. Below are seven tips for turning meetings around from the “Making Meetings Work” training course I lead. If you’re interested in learning more or attending a class, email me at ipatten@utk.edu.

  1. Understand your role before the meeting starts.
    If you’re not sure why you were invited or what you can add—talk to the facilitator in advance. Make sure you’re clear on expectations so you can prepare.
  2. Be in attendance—physically and mentally.
    We all know the habitual latecomer and chronic email checker. These mistakes send the message that you don’t want to be there. Be on time, pay attention and contribute.
  3. Minimize distractions.
    Get as far away from your computer as possible, switch your phone to silent—not vibrate—and turn it facedown. The group deserves your full attention, and if you’re so distracted that you can’t be present, reschedule.
  4. Keep the energy up.
    Change things up by switching locations, using different presentation tools, rotating facilitators and making time on the agenda for recognizing progress.
  5. Keep the end in mind.
    As a facilitator, you should know what you want to accomplish and share an agenda ahead of time so everyone else understands, too. For every item that’s not finished, there should be agreement among group members about how to move forward.
  6. Budget your meeting like you budget your money.
    Creating an agenda without times sets yourself up to waste time. Decide what you want to accomplish, allocate time accordingly and stick to it.
  7. Take responsibility.
    Everyone is responsible for a meeting’s success. If you’re involved in a meeting where nothing is getting done, you’re at fault, too. Find ways to share feedback and suggest solutions regardless of your role within the group.

The UT System Office of Employee and Organizational Development offers more than 150 courses, many of which are held statewide. Traveling courses can be arranged for groups of 12 or more participants. Additionally, more than 300 e-learning courses are available at no cost to employees at humanresources.tennessee.edu/training/online-training.

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