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Meetings are sometimes needed to inform, plan, assign tasks, move projects forward and to evaluate progress, but many people find meetings a colossal waste of time. It’s not unusual to observe people at meetings who look disinterested, or who use the time to catch up on email or texts. Meetings can get off track when participants bring up issues unrelated what is being addressed. When you think about ten people attending a one-hour meeting that does not accomplish much, that is 10 hours of time that could have been spent doing something more productive. When you are in charge of a meeting, make the most of it. Consider the following tips for making the most of your meetings.

First, determine if you need a face-to-face meeting

A “ritual” staff meeting at 8:30 a.m. each Monday that a manager began 20 years ago may not be a wise use of time today. In fact, it is probably unnecessary to come together for a meeting when you can accomplish the same tasks remotely. When a conference call will do, why have a meeting? When you can meet face-to-face using social media, there’s no need to leave your desk or drive across town to a meeting. Often, text messages or emails are sufficient for updates or status reports.

Set a clear agenda and stick to it

Whether you meet face-to-face or remotely, a meeting without an agenda can be like wandering in the wilderness. Not only is an agenda needed to keep the meeting running smoothly, but sending the agenda to participants early helps them become familiar with what will be discussed. They can make a list of any questions or concerns prior to coming to a meeting.

Record accurate minutes

Accurate minutes ensure that you have a record of the important issues discussed and decisions that were made. Minutes also include unfinished business and any tasks assigned to specific employees or members. The person taking minutes should record major issues discussed, motions, votes and whether motions passed. Having an accurate account of meeting proceedings takes the guesswork out of planning your agenda for the next meeting.

Send minutes to members or participants soon after the meeting while it is still fresh in their minds. Most likely they will read the minutes and suggest corrections if needed. Sending minutes to participants in advance, rather than waiting until the next meeting to share them will save time. When participants have read the minutes prior to the meeting, you can call for a motion to dispense with the reading of the minutes.