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4 Ways to Overcome Problems at Meetings

It may shock you to learn that, unlike at your organization, there exist meetings that are unproductive! Yes, it is true, sometimes meetings occur that do not yield clear results. Harry Hall writes about four potential problems of meetings, and how you can remedy them:

  1. Unclear purpose
  2. Topic hopping
  3. Indecision
  4. Unclear direction

Swatting the Flies

A major reason why meetings are unproductive is that nobody knows why the meeting was called in the first place. Every meeting should begin with someone succinctly stating the exact purpose of the meeting. Review the agenda and ground rules, and ask if anyone has additional items that need addressed.

A second problem that derives from the first is that humans are not used to thinking procedurally on one topic, then another topic, then another topic, in that order. They want to jump back and forth between subjects, which ultimately lowers how much productive talking can get done on an individual subject. To combat this, you can keep an issues list of important points raised, or, if necessary, you can assign a “gatekeeper” that redirects the discussion when necessary.

But regardless of planning and structuring, sometimes there is just an air of indecision in what is being discussed. Lack of information or an uncertainty as to who should make a decision is often responsible for this. Likewise, limit the number of people you have in a meeting to about eight participants, because the more people you have in a room, the slower you will make decisions.

Finally, about unclear direction, you can take care of that with “RAID”: risk, action items, issues, and decisions:

Risks. Capture threats and opportunities in your risk register.
ction Items. The action items should include: date of action item, actions to be taken, person responsible, due date, status (Open or Closed).
ssues. Meeting issues include things that are important to discuss but were outside the scope of the meeting. Issues should include: date of issue, description, person responsible, due date, status.
ecisions. What decisions were made? Who made the decision? What was the date of the decision? What factors contributed to the decision?

You can read Hall’s full post here:

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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