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4 Tips for Making Your Meetings Valuable

It's no surprise that people tend to hate meetings. Not only do they represent chunks of time you can't spend doing actual, productive work -- you know, the stuff you're paid for and against which you're evaluated by your boss -- but meetings are often perceived as a waste of time with no discernable outcome.

Well, I've got some tips to help you turn your meetings around and make them pay off for you. Now, when you have a meeting, there's no excuse not to have an actionable, productive outcome.

1. Start with an agenda. Never walk into a meeting without a specific list of items to discuss. You can keep your agenda private, but its real value comes alive when you share it ahead of time, so attendees know what to expect and can prepare for the meeting, if necessary. One easy way to do that is to update the meeting invitation with the agenda items shortly before the time the meeting is scheduled.

2. Designate a note-taker. Someone in the meeting should be capturing notes. That can be you, but if it's your meeting, I suggest asking someone else to write down the details. You're busy running the meeting and keeping it on the rails. If you're distracted writing down what's happening, you can easily lose control of the meeting.

3. Assign action items. You can do this during the meeting or afterwards, but either way, it's important to make sure someone is responsible for actually following up on every action item that was discussed. If no own owns something, that thing will never get done -- it's that simple. You might want to use a tool like FollowUpThen to make sure nothing falls between the cracks.

4. Publish the minutes. Post the minutes and follow up actions somewhere everyone can see it, like a team SharePoint or shared public folder. Don't hoard the information yourself, or try to coordinate with the action item owners exclusively one-on-one.

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