How To Run A Successful Meeting

How To Run A Successful Meeting

We’ve all been through it; the meeting that goes on and on. Instead of listening, you resort to playing with your phone or daydreaming the time away, all the while wondering why you are even in attendance.

According to Salary.com, meetings are ranked as the number one office productivity killer, and they are increasingly filling up a good portion of our days. While the need for running a meeting will never go away, the art of running an effective meeting is a skill we can all learn more about. There are effective ways to run a meeting that will leave employees feeling energized and excited about work, instead of yearning for a break instead. Here are a few tips:

What is your purpose?

Before you ever calendar a meeting and send out the invites, ask yourself one question: what do I hope to accomplish? What are my ultimate objectives? If you can’t clearly define the purpose for the meeting, the results you hope to achieve, and the process you’ll take to get there, spend some time refining each of these items before you hit enter. A purpose provides direction, and helps keep things on track.

Carefully weigh who is invited

It’s easy to call a meeting and invite everyone on the team. But does everyone truly need to be there? Take the time to think about who truly needs to be there, and who will be impacted most by what the meeting is about. If the subject isn’t relevant to a team member, or they will have little impact that will carry weight in the final decision, they will view their attendance as a waste of time. It’s better to allow these team members to do other, more productive tasks.

Set a specific schedule

Open ended meetings tend to drone on and on, with no end in sight. Create an agenda that outlines the specific topics of the meeting, and how much time will be dedicated to each topic. Use that timeline as you make your way through the meeting. You can even use this to be specific in scheduling your meeting, telling attendees how long it will be, and providing them with outlined topics so they can be more prepared for the discussion.

Create an equal playing field

If you’ve carefully constructed the people in attendance, it’s important to hear what each one has to say. Never allow one person to monopolize the time, providing all the thoughts or answers. Instead, call out each person and hear what they have to say. If you take this approach in all your meetings, the expectations will be there at the start of each one, giving you more brainstorming potential and greater interaction between the team members.

Ban technology

The new reality is everyone carries their smartphones and iPads with them everywhere. While it allows people to get more done, it’s also the easiest way to get sidetracked. Instead of focusing on the topic at hand, a person can easily be consumed by an email or a text message. If you keep meetings short and direct, keep technology out of the conference room, and keep all eyes and thoughts front and center.

Take action

It’s common for people to walk away from a meeting with very different interpretations of the final outcome. As a part of the process, clearly outline the final outcomes and strategies, and make assignments as necessary. A simple followup email can keep everyone on track, knowing exactly the work that needs to be completed.

Meetings can be a valuable and productive part of doing business, if you take the time to make them that way.

How To Build Healthy Customer Relationships

How To Build Healthy Customer Relationships

Think back to the last time you found yourself in a situation where you were developing a relationship with a new friend or possibly even a love interest. A lot of things went through your mind as the relationship grew. On some level, you probably asked yourself questions such as:

What will we gain by deepening this relationship?How To Build Healthy Customer Relationships
What are the expectations if we move forward?

While the outcomes may be different, a relationship is a relationship. If you are in business, and you deal on any level with customers, the same questions apply.

Customers don’t do business with a company, they do business with the people. They spend their money because they have a personal relationship with the people inside the company. They won’t do business without a connection. We all have expectations. And if those aren’t being met by the people already in our lives, we’ll head out and look for them elsewhere.

What can you do to build healthier relationships with your customers?

Acknowledge me
Think about the business relationships you like best. You want to be a person, not a number. You want quick action, and never have to fight for what you need. Simple actions go a long ways. Improve your phone systems so your customers can reach a live person quickly. Talk with your customers as if they are friends rather than a number. Support them in a way that they feel recognized, instead of just another step towards your bottom line.

Communicate with me
People prefer different channels when communicating with a business. Some like phoning in, some like visiting a website. Some prefer to stop by, some people prefer to automate as much as they can. Because there isn’t a right method of communication for every customer you have, it’s important to develop strong lines of communications in several ways. Work to perfect the methods that are most beneficial to you and to your customers.

Educate me
In today’s world, you can’t hide things from your customers. With a little bit of research, they will find out all they need to know online by Googling it, or asking a friend on Facebook or Twitter what they know. That means to develop a strong relationship, being transparent and authentic will get you a long way. The more information you share about your products and services, the more connection your customer will have with the way you do business. And that can help develop relationships for the long term.

Protect me
Have you ever had a bad experience with a company, and had them turn their back and ignore the problem at hand? We all have been there. As a customer, we realize that not everything in life will turn out as perfectly as we had planned. But when a company goes the extra mile to make things right after a fall, it can improve the relationship immensely.

Thank me
Appreciate your customers for all they do. After all, without them you wouldn’t be in business. Simple thank you’s can go a long way in improving a relationship, and also help you build a stronger referral base over time. Customers refer friends when they’re happy with what you do. And in many cases, a simple thank you and a little appreciation can set the stage perfectly.

How To Add More Time Into Your Day

How To Add More Time Into Your Day

Have you ever sat back at the end of a busy day and wondered exactly what you accomplished? Sure, a lot of things came across your desk. You had a great lunch meeting filled with potential promise. But what did you truly accomplish?

The trickiest part of the time management process is finding all of those time wasters that kill your efficiency and rob you of the opportunity to do more in less time. We all want more time – its our most valuable resource. But in reality, how you use each moment of the day is what controls your effectiveness as a worker, and as a leader. If you learn to focus in on results rather than action alone, you’ll soon be able to choose the thing to follow through on that will benefit both you and the company the most.How To Add More Time Into Your Day

Action, Not Reaction
One of the biggest time wasters involves going into crisis mode when a big event occurs. Rather than planning and having things run smoothly, a telephone call or a simple statement from a client or employee can set the fires burning, and suck everyone in the office into problem solving mode. Reaction not only takes top priority, it stops productivity in its tracks as it pulls you away from other things that truly needed to be done.

Yet studies consistently show that many of these crisis situations can be solved with a little bit of foresight and planning. When a crisis happened, what caused it? How was the problem solved? Instead of reacting, completing the task, and pushing it aside to play catch up on other tasks, spend time evaluating the situation. What could have been done to avoid the crisis altogether? What’s missing in your system? In almost every case there are certain procedures that if implemented properly, would have been enough to avoid the situation. Learn from your mistakes. Implement new procedures and stop the next crisis from occurring before it ever has a chance.

Outcomes, Not Details
Leaders like to be in the know; understand what is happening from every direction. As we start out in a work environment and continue to grow as we learn and age, it can be difficult realizing that details aren’t necessarily our friends. Details take time. Details mean specifics. And in many cases, the specifics simply don’t matter for what a leader needs to know.

Leaders need to know when the task is complete. They need to understand the consequences of doing the job the wrong way, and make sure procedures are in place to avoid the bumps. Yet when it comes to the outcome, the only thing that truly matters is that the task is complete, and the end result is acceptable to all parties involved. The details don’t matter. Release control over the details, and you’ll give yourself more time to do what you truly need to do.

Control Technology
One of the biggest time savers we have is also one of our biggest time wasters: technology.

Those little devices we carry around with us everywhere make us more productive than ever before. They also have the potential to chain us to the office 24/7, and suck us in to doing things way beyond the scope of what truly needs to be done.

To gain control over technology, start by assessing what programs you truly need to be more efficient. In some cases it may mean evaluating new tools to provide you with better access to the things you need most.

Next, take the time to develop a plan for how you deal with technology. Rather than glancing at your phone every time an email comes in, pre-establish select times for email viewing: 7:30 am, noon and 4pm are good times to evaluate what’s happening during the day, but also gives you freedom to not be fixated on the little chimes that are bound to interrupt. You can also establish phone and texting timeframes, and answer questions and communications that come in during these specified time periods.

By establishing time frames in your mind, you’ll quickly learn to express your preferences to the people that contact you the most. If an assistant has an important question at 10am, she’ll know texting is the best way to get an answer quickly, and won’t expect an email response and get frustrated when it doesn’t happen. It’ll also set the stage for you to communicate with the people around you in a manner most friendly and conducive to letting you operate at your top efficiency level.