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4
Take Control of Meetings

The Agenda List

Some of the best meetings are one-on-one conversations, but sometimes when those talks happen, it's hard to remember everything you want to discuss. Time management expert David Allen recommends keeping different "agendas" that list topics you might otherwise forget that you want to discuss with your boss, your spouse or a colleague [source: McGregor]. Keep it up to date.

Any time wasted in a meeting is multiplied by the number of people involved. That's why it's essential to make meeting times as efficient as possible. Begin by keeping the number of people who are invited to a minimum, and don't attend a meeting yourself unless your participation is really needed. When you call a meeting, make sure everyone knows the purpose and the agenda. Each time an item is discussed, end with a decision of some kind -- even if it's just to talk about it again later -- and move on. Don't get bogged down.

Also, send out information that participants need in advance -- handouts in meetings can be distractions. You might even suggest pre-meeting actions such as investigating prices or feasibility. Go into every meeting with a goal. What are you trying to accomplish there?

Try to start every meeting on time. It may help to schedule the gathering for an odd starting point, like 10:35, to emphasize the time to participants. When the meeting begins, announce when it will end. No meeting should have an indefinite length.

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