When properly planned and executed, meetings can be an efficient way to share information or solve problems. When meetings are disorganized, scheduled without reason, too often, or not often enough, they become a waste of time and energy, and are a frustration to everyone. Meetings can be a very useful tool in an organization's productivity. The success of a meeting depends on how it is conducted. Here are a few things to consider, what to do, and what not to do when scheduling and running a meeting.

Don't have a meeting if there is no reason to have one.

Do have a meeting if there is a topic to discuss.

Many organizations have meetings on a regular basis (once a week, bi-monthly, etc.), which is alright if there is something to talk about in the meeting. If a meeting is scheduled, but does not have a point, it ends up wasting time, not only during the meeting, but in the time it takes for everyone to prepare. If you do have regularly scheduled meetings, and you know that one week is particularly slow and there will be nothing to discuss, cancel it and reconvene when you have an issue that needs attention.

Don't include people who aren't involved in the topic.

Do invite those who have valuable input or need to be involved.

Be careful about who you invite to the meeting. Review the subject matter and involve anyone who will have important contributions to make, or will need to know about it in the future. If there are attendees who have no connection with the subject, you are wasting their time. Additionally, if you are not careful about whom you invite, you may exclude people who may need to be included. There may be staff members who may not be working on it at the time being, but may need to participate to understand it later on. If it is a new project, you may want to invite those with more information. There may be people who are not directly associated with the project, but are more knowledgeable about it. In this case, they can provide helpful information that others cannot.

Don't go in unprepared.

Do have an agenda to follow and a basic structure for the meeting.

Every meeting should have a basic plan. You need to know what needs to be addressed and accomplished during a meeting, and how you are going to go about doing it. The agenda needs to specify what should be presented in the meeting, and when. The structure of the meeting is how it is organized. If this is a meeting where everyone needs to participate, determine the best way to do it (give time for questions, going around the room to each person for feedback, etc.). If the purpose of the meeting is to brainstorm, think about how you want to generate ideas. Every meeting needs an agenda and structure, but how each is used will differ based on the meeting.

Don't assume someone else will run it.

Do have a facilitator.

Once an agenda is set, there must be someone who ensures that it is followed. A meeting may have one plan, but the attendees have their own agendas, and a meeting can easily go off track when no one is sticking to the plan. If you cannot facilitate, find someone who will watch the clock, follow the schedule, and keep everyone on track.

Don't be selfish with the time.

Do respect other schedules.

Meetings are effective when used responsibly. Schedule enough time to focus on the matter at hand, but do not use time selfishly. Other members of your team probably have other matters that are just as or maybe more important than the current one, and need time to do their own work. Furthermore, when meetings are too long, attendees lose interest. If it becomes clear that you do not have enough time to resolve the issue in the meeting, schedule another one. The break between the meetings will allow attendees to come back refreshed and open to new information.

Don't own the meeting.

Do give opportunities for input and discussion in the allotted time.

The topic of the meeting is not the sole purpose. The purpose is to share this information. This will not be accomplished if one person is doing all the talking. Always allow time for feedback, questions, and discussion. If you do not have these elements, the meeting becomes a lecture.

The most productive meetings are those that have the most thought put into them. The topic, the attendees, and the structure are all essential components. With the proper attention, and planning, you can get the most out of your meeting, and the staff members who attend.

Author's Bio: 

Adam is a human resources professional who has an extensive education in oral communication, diversity, and team/leadership development from the University of Southern California.

In his recruiting experience, has managed the hiring process for a variety of positions in the IT, media, graphic design and hospitality industries. Adam's background also includes training and development in which he has facilitated new hire orientations and trained different levels of staff in hospitality standards and safety. Adam has also acted as a consultant for non-profit organizations to help improve company wide communication processes.

Visit his weblog at http://www.coachadamyoung.com