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Meeting A Dead Horse
by Jim M. Allen
What do you think of when you hear the word "meeting"?
Chances are you think of a group of people getting together for a common purpose: to bore each other silly and get nothing accomplished. Unfortunately, that's what most people think of meetings and, more unfortunately, that's exactly what most meetings are like.
You can't manage a business without holding or attending a few meetings. They are a 'necessary evil' which you must deal with. This being true, here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a meeting in your business.
Better Never Than Ever
Ask yourself if you really need to have a meeting to deal with the issue at hand. Meetings require a lot of time to plan and execute, plus most people hate them anyway. If there's a way to meet your needs *without* holding a meeting, do that first.
Plan, Plan, Plan
To paraphrase the old real-estate mantra: The key to a successful meeting is... the plan, the plan, the plan.
Have a plan for what you want to accomplish in the meeting and how you're going to run it. Create an agenda. Make sure everyone attending the meeting gets one.
What I Really Want To Do Is Direct
Make it exceptionally easy for people to get to your meeting, otherwise they'll be irritated from the start. If the meeting will be held off-site or involves bringing in people unfamiliar with your location, provide very clear and easy-to-follow directions. If there are multiple routes, choose the easiest and most common for your area, and test-drive each one of them yourself. Then ask a friend to test them, too.
Meetings grow long and out-of-control when nobody takes control. If you called the meeting, be in charge of it or, if you can't, appoint someone who can. If nobody's running a meeting you're in, don't be shy: jump in and do it yourself! You may feel uneasy at first, but people will appreciate it.
No matter who's in charge, some people raise issues that just don't apply to the topic at-hand. A gentle reminder generally helps steer the conversation back to the right direction. If not, politely --but firmly-- tell the person that this is not the time for their issue.
Time is a River
Don't let the meeting go past the scheduled time, EVER. If you must, stop at the time scheduled and plan an additional meeting to resolve remaining issues. (Better yet: resolve them later without having a second meeting.) If you know a meeting will be long, schedule a break (or breaks) so that people can stretch, get a snack, go to the restroom, etc.
Jim Allen is a professional life coach, speaker, and writer. Get more great ideas in you email every week by subscribing to Jim's weekly newsletter, THE BIG IDEA, by sending a blank email to: mailto:Subscribe@CoachJim.com (©2001 Jim Allen & CoachJim.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)
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