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Business professionals are often in a position to chair a meeting.  And, as busy leaders themselves, they know the importance of making sure the meeting runs efficiently to respect everyone’s valuable time, as well as their own.

In addition to the pastries, fruit and coffee that may await attendees, those who chair a meeting will also win points by following these 12 steps for efficiency:

1.    Email an agenda and any handouts for review to all attendees at least one day before the meeting. Be sure to list any unfinished business in addition to new agenda items.

2.    Begin the meeting on time. Don’t wait for late-comers. It sends a message that it’s not important to be prompt.

3.    Begin with a minute or two of small talk. Research shows this helps others perceive the leader as approachable and friendly. But, then dig into the agenda.

4.    Make any necessary corrections if minutes are read from a previous meeting.

5.    Bring closure to the unfinished agenda items in a timely way. You don’t want them to reappear on the next agenda, nor to take up the bulk of the current meeting time.

6.    Designate a few minutes for committee reports or announcements that anyone needs to make.

7.    Introduce new agenda items. Keep discussion on track and avoid rabbit trails. Try to bring closure to all items if possible, to eliminate carryover.

8.   Designate a scribe or minute-taker in addition to your own notes of the meeting.

9.    Conclude the meeting with a brief summary of action items, persons responsible and expected timeline.

10.  Move agenda items that need further discussion to a separate meeting or conference call with those directly involved, if necessary.

11.  End the meeting on time if at all possible, or even early. This respects everyone’s busy schedules.

12.  Finally, keep your phone off or on silent mode throughout the meeting. This sets an example of courteous phone etiquette for others to follow. Even the busiest professionals can usually go 30-60 minutes without checking messages, texts and emails.

For the next meeting on the calendar that you are chairing, use these 12 steps for efficiency. As a result, your team members will thank you for it and not dread going to “another meeting!”

Another good read: Top 4 Meeting Pet Peeves and How to Avoid Them.

NOTE: If you are hosting a more formal meeting, or if the bylaws of your organization specify Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) as the adopted parliamentary authority, you may order it here. It has become the standard for formal meetings and board meetings for correct parliamentary procedure. It’s been updated numerous times since it’s original publication in 1896.

Rachel Wagner is a licensed business etiquette consultant, trainer and speaker. She’s been quoted or interviewed in Money, The Washington Post, NBC Today, Forbes and numerous other national media outlets on a regular basis. You may contact her at 918.970.4400 or email her at Rachel@EtiquetteTrainer.com. You may also visit her website www.EtiquetteTrainer.com for more information about her business etiquette programs or to speak at your event.