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David Lee King: Four steps to a better meeting

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Meetings - I've heard more than one person say meetings are a huge waste of time. They hate them. They aren't productive. A meeting gets in the way of their "real work."

Image: David Lee KingDavid Lee King

David Lee King is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, where he plans, implements, and experiments with emerging technology trends.

He speaks internationally about emerging trends, website management, digital experience, and social media, and has been published in many library-related journals. David is a Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

His newest book is Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections.

David blogs at

Read David's other articles…

Image: Social media

If that's the case … you're doing meetings wrong.

And that's sad, because a productive meeting is pretty easy to do, and it can help move your organization forward.

In fact, meetings are a very important part of my job. During a meeting, I can find out details about a project, participants can brainstorm ideas, and then work can be assigned to help us meet our goals.

Here are four steps to a better meeting:

1. Send out an agenda ahead of time. This shows people what will be covered. If there's something other people need to prepare or think about beforehand, they have time to do that. And make sure you stick to the agenda – no straying.

2. Set a time limit. Do you need an hour? Do you really just need 15 minutes? Set a time limit and stick to it. You'd be surprised at how much can be accomplished in a smaller chunk of time.

3. Lead the meeting. As the meeting leader, it's your job to stay on topic and move the meeting forward. During the meeting, if someone is monopolizing the discussion, take an active role in getting feedback from others. For example, ask if others have something to share. You might say something like "Sharon, you haven't shared yet. What do you think?" If you get off topic, feel free to interrupt the conversation and steer people back to the agenda. You can also use the "parking board" concept for those stray ideas. Write the idea down, and say that you'll need to cover that at another time (and then remember to actually do that).

4. At the end of the meeting, set some next steps. During your meeting, did you decide a plan of action? Assign the work and set deadlines. Set the next meeting time if needed.

If you follow these four simple steps, meetings can be productive, short, and move your organization forward. So what are you waiting for? Schedule that next meeting now!