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3 Tips for Running a Meeting That Actually Works

When was the last time you actually had a meeting that accomplished something? Unless you own the company, chances are that you can't make every meeting a productive one, but when you are in charge, there's a lot you can to do to make meetings a better use of everyone's time.

meeting 

(Photo Credit: Simon Blackley/Flickr)

1. Know why you're having the meeting.

Sounds simple, right? You'd be surprised how many teams just have meetings because they've always had them, or because of some vague sense that no one will do their work if they're not called to account for it in front of their co-workers. Those are bad reasons to take a chunk out of everyone's schedules.

Before you call a meeting, make sure that it has a real purpose, e.g. to convey a decision, to brainstorm a solution to a problem, or to teach a new skill. Then ask yourself if what you're proposing could be accomplished via another means, such as an email.

2. Have an agenda, and send it around.

You'll get more out of every participant if they have time to prepare. Also, going into a meeting blind makes people anxious -- understandably so, after half a decade plus of layoffs and mass firings -- and anxiety is almost always counterproductive.

3. Make decisions with data.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer encourages team members to bring facts to the table, when making decisions.

"Mayer believes that numbers and facts are essential to having effective meetings," writes David Fallarme at 99u. "She thinks of data as the great equalizer: whether you're an intern or a VP, you can have your way as long as you have the data to prove your claims. By making decisions with metrics, she can avoid lengthy debates stemming from opinions and organizational politics."

By encouraging everyone to concentrate on facts and figures and not feelings or impressions, you'll make it easier for the company to make sound business decisions -- while also cutting down on time spent arguing about unprovable assumptions.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your best meeting tips? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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