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7 Steps to Stop Meeting Madness & Have More Effective Meetings

7 Steps to Stop Meeting Madness & Have More Effective Meetings

By Shanon Lyon, Special to PayScale.com

Do you block your calendar so no one can schedule you? Do you schedule or attend weekly team meetings even when there's nothing to talk about? If so, you might be one of the millions of people who suffer from meeting madness. No purple pill can cure your ills, but these eight simple steps will get you on the road to recovery:

1. Start and end your meetings on time.
Some companies run on their own time. Everyone (except the new guy, of course) knows that meetings start 10 minutes late. But those minutes add up to a whole lot of wasted time ... and money. Use the new PayScale Meeting Miser to track the cost of your meeting and help you start effective team meeting practices.

2. Invite the right people.
If you are trying to organize an effective meeting, keep it small and limited to the people who need to be there. On the flipside, if you clearly don't belong in a meeting (you're a graphic designer in a room full of number junkies talking about year-end reports), politely excuse yourself.

3. Have an agenda ... and stick to it.
According to April Callis, senior change management consultant at Navigator Management Partners in Columbus, Ohio, preparation is the key to an effective meeting.

"Take the time to research issues and send the research in advance so that participants are ready to discuss and decide, not just listen," she says.

You should always know exactly why you're calling a meeting and what you plan to accomplish. Before the meeting, send out an agenda and ask for questions or additions. Once you're in the meeting, stick to the agenda. You can take your discussion of America's Next Top Model "offline." Don't become an ineffective meeting poster child.

4. Banish electronics from meetings.
Cell phones, laptops, electric toothbrushes. It may be tough in today's technology-driven workplace, but asking attendees to leave all battery-operated devices outside the conference room will help you focus on the topic at hand and result in more effective meetings.

5. Take meeting minutes.
A meeting is worthless if no one remembers what was said and decided (assuming, of course, something was decided). If you can't take minutes, assign someone else to do it.   

6. Speak up.
It's the meeting organizer's job to keep the meeting moving. If someone is rambling or, worse yet, repeating something someone else just said, ask questions to clarify, then move on. Also, don't hesitate to point out contradictions to previously made decisions. These are all very effective team meeting practices.

7. Follow up.
Send meeting minutes out immediately after the meeting with action items and next steps. And think twice about scheduling a follow-up meeting. Your co-workers will thank you. To help you keep a record of attendees, the PayScale Meeting Miser lets you to share a meeting time and cost summary with the click of a button.

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