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Keep People Awake in Meetings

We’ve all attended meetings that failed to start on time, ran over, or went off track because the agenda was not followed. When meetings go off course or drag on, people start thinking about the other, more important things they could be doing.

So what’s the secret to an engaging, results-driven, on-schedule meeting where everyone is motivated to participate?

Here are seven tips for making every meeting one where everyone is tuned-in and intent on giving their best:

Issue an agenda so attendees can come prepared.

Ask for a volunteer to be a timekeeper for your meetings—make it his or her job to remind you of agenda item time limits. This frees you to focus on content.

Start and end on time. Keep to the agenda items and minimize off-topic conversations.

Establish ground rules for more effective meetings, including having only one person talk at a time.

Rotate the chairperson at each meeting to improve team member’s meeting-management skills—that also will get them more involved.

Gain consensus on decisions.

At the end of each meeting, have team members rate the session’s effectiveness and ask for their ideas on how to improve the process.

The key to successful meetings is to get agreement from attendees that you will all operate by these guidelines. No one wants to participate in meetings they feel are a waste of their time, so get their support in making sure that everyone is engaged, attentive, and, at the very least, awake.

Keith Ayers


Integro Leadership Institute

West Chester, Pa.

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