Brainfood: Your route to the top - Make meetings motor

Get your guest list right. Are the usual suspects the right people, or would some new blood bring a fresh perspective?

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Pick your location. Surroundings have a big influence on how we think, so why not ditch the boardroom for the Tate Modern or the Sage Gallery to encourage bigger thinking.

Don't take it sitting down. To keep meetings short, try removing the chairs. Research shows that sit-down meetings take an average 34% longer, and are no better.

Know the purpose. Is this meeting to inform, generate ideas and stimulate discussion, or to reach a decision?

Reflect outcomes in the agenda. Keep items up for discussion clear and to the point, and include a desired result. Instead of just 'Overseas' as a heading, try 'Where to launch outside the home territory' and offer a shortlist of countries.

Plan the sequence of topics. Will the least-informed person be able to contribute to each item without needing information from the discussions further down the agenda?

Keep a check on time. Include an estimate on the agenda of how long to spend on each item. If time is running out, say so. Ask the group whether they'd prefer to continue or move on.

Take the reins. Focus on governing the process and limit your contributions to content (you can make your views known with judicious use of questions).

Summarise as you go.

Engage the group. Swap positions and ask each person to make the case for a view that is different from the one they hold. Or get everyone to write their ideas on separate bits of paper, then as a group separate them by theme.

Seek support beforehand. If you suspect the meeting will be tricky, share the draft agenda and ask for feedback from a couple of attendees beforehand.

- The Mind Gym: Give Me Time is published by Time Warner at £12.99 (www.themindgym.com).

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