Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Getting the most out of meetings

Getting the most out of meetings

If you work for a company where meetings are held in English, you may have had one or these problems:

- being unable to say what you mean clearly and concisely

- being unable to interrupt others to make a point

- being unable to prevent others from interrupting you

- being unable to understand others – especially if they joke, go off the point, or speak too quickly

- being unable to understand what the action points are – and what you're expected to do

- being unable to concentrate for long periods of time on complex or detailed discussions

- being shy (not willing to initiate a discussion, even though you have plenty of things to say)

Some of these problems occur because the meeting is disorganised or lacks a clear focus and objective. Sometimes the chair can't control the meeting – to make sure that people have enough time to get their points across, or to prevent others from taking up too much time, or going off the point. In many cases, "successful" meetings can be achieved by setting a suitable time limit, having a clear (but not over-ambitious) agenda, and by preventing interruptions and disturbances.

However, participants at a meeting also have an obligation to respect others' time, to contribute meaningfully and appropriately, and to be well-prepared. Here are some tips to help you avoid the most common problems in meetings – and to help you get the most from them.

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