8 Ways to Turn a Boring Meeting Into a Roaring Success

The biggest complaints people have about meetings is that the last too long and accomplish too little. You can fix that.

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By Jacqueline Whitmore

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Are you tired of the weekly Monday morning meeting? Is it the same old, same old, starting with complaints and ending with more work?

If this sounds like your staff meeting, it's probably time to shake things up. Meetings won't be boring and unproductive if you incorporate a little imagination and some planning.

Here are eight tips that can take the bore out of this chore.

1. Do something different at the beginning of each meeting.

Start off with an inspirational quote or story, or a passage from a best selling business book. Dedicate a different person each week to start the meeting with their own spin, or lay out a topic for discussion that will bend their minds in directions other than work.

Related: Why Meetings Are One of the Worst Business Rituals. Ever.

2. Have an agenda, and stick to it.

Often, meetings get stuck on one agenda item that diverts the group into discussing problems. That's when you start to lose people who aren't involved in that discussion. Stick to the one item at hand, and table any sideline discussions for the end of the meeting. That way you'll be sure to get through your agenda items quickly.

3. Keep it short.

Nobody likes a long meeting, so keep it short and sweet. If you need to discuss points further, schedule another meeting. People won't dread short meetings that accomplish everyone's goals.

4. Keep it positive.

Don't let the meeting digress into a complaint session. Set the standard of positivity at your first meeting and make it a rule for all meetings. If there is a problem, look at solving it with a team approach, concentrating on the next step of solving it rather than complaining about the problem itself.

Related: These 5 Mistakes Make Meetings a Huge Time Waste

5. Make each person responsible for input.

Make each person responsible for some contribution to the meeting, whether it's their department report, an anecdote or a unique or innovative idea. That will make them feel more integrated into the team. Rather than being talked "at," they can add their own important information to the discussion.

6. Change the location.

Remember how your teachers sometimes took the class out onto the lawn on a nice day? There's no reason you can't change up your location by holding it in the conference room one week, the cafeteria the next, or at a local coffee shop the third week. If you can't change locations, shake up the order in the room by assigning seats. People tend to sit in the same places each week, next to the same people. Encourage everyone to mingle and sit next to someone they might not ordinarily sit next to.

7. Ban all outside distractions.

Instill a "no cell phone" rule and stick to it. People can't concentrate on the task at hand when they're texting others, and they can't concentrate when others are texting. When you eliminate distractions, you eliminate having to repeat yourself.

8. Share some good news.

At the end of each meeting, ask for volunteers to share some good news with the group. Then send everyone back to work. They'll leave with a good overall feeling to start the day.

Keep these simple steps in mind and you might be surprised that people look forward to meetings and actually miss them if they don't occur. Your team will bond better and you'll have a more positive outcome for both the meeting and the business.

Related: Tired of Useless Meetings? 9 Ways to Make Them More Effective. (Infographic)

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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