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What to Do Before, During, and After

To run a meeting well, you have to attend to the business of the meeting—before, during, and after the meeting. The "before" stage involves the preparation any good speech demands: What are your objectives, your purpose? What results do you hope for? How does your audience affect those objectives? You'll also need to decide how long the meeting will be, who should be there, and where to hold it. Then send out an agenda you plan to stick to; an advance agenda shows that you are organized and capable and plan to lead the meeting well.

During the meeting, you use the tools of a speaker's trade: openings, transitions, closings. The meetings people complain about usually lack discipline; people talk on and on to a degree they would never think of if they were speaking before a large audience as part of a formal program. Treat your meeting audience with the same respect and formality you would give to a large audience: Plan ahead; be succinct, vivid, and knowledgeable.

Any successful meeting demands follow-up. Send out a post-meeting summary that includes the title of the meeting, the date, the name of the person who ran it, and who was present. Summarize conclusions the group reached, commitments people made, and what future action the group will take.


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