Ideas for Great Meetings

Joe Weinlick
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For most professionals, attending meetings is a necessary part of corporate life. In fact, Rachel Silverman of The Wall Street Journal reports that executives spend about one-third of their work time in meetings. Organizing a productive, great meeting can mean all the difference between a motivated, efficient team and an aimless, confused group of employees left to their own devices. The following meeting ideas can turn your typical meetings into great meetings.

1. Bridge the Gap

In meetings or seminars in which experts talk to attendees about acquiring new skills, a great way to encourage active participation and create a great meeting is to allow attendees to provide instant feedback and learn those skills right away. This is the concept behind The National Strength and Conditioning Association's Bridge the Gap series. During this series, attendees attend a lecture on a specific topic. That same day, attendees get a chance to learn hands-on techniques to complement what they've just learned as part of the lecture. This strategy can be applied to any type of meeting, not just formal seminars. Allow meeting participants a chance to provide active feedback and actually participate in discussions by using examples, role-play or props to engage them, rather than just having one person talk the whole time.

2. Ban Electronics

Another way to turn a good meeting into a great meeting is to prohibit the use of electronic devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones during the meeting. These devices are a major distraction to both the user and the meeting leader. Requiring participants to leave them at their desks before the meeting is a surefire way to make sure they are engaged and paying attention. Engaged participants are much more likely to come up with good ideas and provide meaningful feedback.

3. Stay on Track

One of the reasons that so many people dread meetings is because too often, they start late or drag on too long, with not enough structure. A great meeting starts on time, stays on topic and ends on time. One way to make sure this happens is to insist that all attendees come to the meeting a few minutes early to quickly go over materials and gather their thoughts and ideas prior to commencement. A well-constructed agenda also helps keep the meeting discussion from veering off into irrelevant topics. This keeps the meeting from dragging on too long, and employees will appreciate that you value their time.

For many employees, the very idea of attending a meeting inspires feelings of dread, dissatisfaction and restlessness. A great meeting can change this attitude. Utilize these meeting ideas by allowing active, hands-on participation, banning electronic devices, and staying on track, and you may find that running your meetings becomes easier and more productive over time.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at



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