Three Ideas To Celebrate Thanksgiving With Philanthropy

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them,
Is the true measure of our thanksgiving – W.T. Purkiser

Out of the numerous special events in a year, one occasion proves to be an important one for Americans – the Thanksgiving! Many look forward to the fourth Thursday of November because this federal holiday is filled with exciting events such as colorful parades, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, Moreover, it also opens an opportunity to bond with family. While the traditional way of celebrating Thanksgiving is always a great option, it is likewise a great idea to try new ways of commemorating this annual holiday.Since the day is about expressing gratitude for the bountiful blessings we received throughout the year, you may want to make Thanksgiving more meaningful by making an effort to give back to others. Thanksgiving and philanthropy are two different yet closely related concepts so there are surely plenty of ways to combine the two. The following are some of them:

Open your house to others.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a happy occasion but people who are living alone or are struggling financially may think otherwise. Help others have a joyful celebration as well by opening your house up to them. Who knows, your company and hospitality may lift the spirit of someone who may be feeling down? Your guests on the other hand will take your family dinner to the next level as their stories may impart valuable lessons. They may even become lifelong friends of your family.

Do some volunteer work.

Your Thanksgiving schedule may be full with sumptuous dinners to attend to or shopping deals to check out. But with your time-management skills, you can definitely squeeze in some time for some charity work. You (or better yet, get the whole family involved) can a few hours or a whole day helping out in a hospital or doing some work at an animal shelter. You can also allot some time doing community service. You are free to choose where to spend your time as long as you do something to help move a cause forward. 

Make donations. 

To realize that you have a lot to share is surely something to be thankful for. Especially because not everyone has this privilege. So spend time to sort out your things and you may discover way too many items you don’t really need but others may still find useful. If you have money to spare, you can also choose an organization to make some donations. It may also be a nice idea is to make it a family project to save money to give for donations at the start of the year until Thanksgiving day.

In many ways, Thanksgiving is a time to indulge. We enjoy sumptuous dishes, drink exquisite wines, and sometimes shop our hearts out. However, while we fill our tummy with good food and satisfy our shopping needs, let us not forget to take time to give back as well. These activities can make your Thanksgiving more rewarding.

Brad and Julie DuncanThree Ideas To Celebrate Thanksgiving With Philanthropy
Read More

Traveling Abroad? Use These 6 Tips to Travel Safely

Embarking on a new country can be the adventure of a lifetime. Experiencing new cultures, seeing new terrain and trying new foods are just a few of the benefits of venturing out into uncharted land, but it’s important to stay safe as well. Here are six tips to keep you safe will traveling abroad.

1. Check the US Passports and International Travel Website for Information 

The United States government maintains a website that informs Americans citizens of current safety and security travel concerns. It details the locations of every U.S. embassy and consular office, as well as travel alerts, warnings, advisories, and things to be mindful of.

2. Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a service that allows United States citizens and nationals to register their travels with the nearest embassy or consulate. Doing so will automatically enroll you to receive updates on safety information, and allow officials and your family to contact you in the case of an emergency or natural disaster. 

3. Share Travel Information with Friends and Family

Before leaving for your trip, inform your close social circle of your travel plans. While it is unwise to notify social media right away (where strangers and robbers may be lurking your statuses), your family and friends can help keep you safe. Send a quick text with your flight details, your room accomodations (address, room number, etc.) and let them know when you’ve arrived safely. Throughout your trip, check-in with your social circle with short messages or calls about your plans for the day. Although these updates may seem unnecessary, when you’re far away from home, they are the only way anyone can be sure you’re ok without assuming.   

4. Safety In Numbers

It’s always safer to travel in groups. Whether leaving the hotel to grab a bite to eat or checking out the sights, remember to grab a buddy (or two) and stick together for maximum safety. If you plan to venture into crowded areas, stick with your group closely and plan meeting spots in case someone gets separated. For extra safety, wear the same colors or an easily identifiable article of clothing to help you reconnect with your travel mates if you lose each other in a crowd.

5. Make Copies of Documents

Passports, travel arrangements, confirmation numbers, boarding passes, licenses, etc. are all vital documents that can make or break your trip. Instead of relying on digital or original versions of such items, make extra paper copies as backup. Place backup copies in various places to ensure that if your luggage is lost or stolen that all your documents won’t be gone as well.  

6. Don’t Be the Center of Attention

As a tourist, the last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself. Avoid flashy jewelry, wear clothes that blend in and assimilate with the culture as respectfully as possible. Behave politely and avoid conflict when possible. When on foreign soil, it’s difficult to know every law (both written and implied). To protect yourself and make it home safely, it’s best to fly under the radar by being as invisible as possible while enjoying your trip. 

Traveling is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted. It can change the way we look at the world around us, the way we look at ourselves, and the way we look at others. But even as we set out on such important soul-changing journeys, we must keep safety first. Prepare with these six safety tips and you’ll be able to enjoy your travels without worry.  

Brad and Julie DuncanTraveling Abroad? Use These 6 Tips to Travel Safely
Read More

Three Cool Adventures to Try During Winter Months

Feeling the chilly weather, experiencing early sunset, and craving for hot dishes – these are just a few signs that winter is coming. The cold breeze in the air can indeed tempt you to curl up in bed and stay home all day. On second thought though, winter is a wonderful season that only comes a year. It would surely feel like an awful waste to spend it holed up indoors. Despite the freezing temperature and thick snow to deal with, winter is no way short of fun activities to try. Winter even offers unique adventure ideas that you cannot experience during other seasons. The following are some suggestions:  

Try snowmobiling or snowshoeing.

Winter landscape is a sight to behold and one thing you can do to easily explore the gorgeous scenery around is snowmobiling. This activity may let you discover that staying outdoors is a better way to spend the winter as you can conveniently ride a sleek motor sled that is specifically designed for the snowy road. 

If you want to flaunt your skiing skills, you may have more fun while snowshoeing. Instead of a motor sled, special footwear will help you traverse the snow-filled ground. Since you will practically walk and cruise along the road, snowshoeing may prove to be a better way to exercise. You can check out hiking trails to make this activity more challenging. Snowmobiling and snowshoeing are worth a try as both are activities you can enjoy with the whole family. 

Book a winter getaway. 

For homebodies who want to spice up their weekend during the winter months, booking a stay in a cozy cabin is a lovely option. There are plenty of log cabins to choose from depending on the amenities your desire and your budget. To make it even more exciting and memorable, you can choose a location that you will be visiting for the first time. Staying in a beautiful cabin during the cold days may just give the total relaxation you are looking for in a vacation. 

Winter camping 

If you want a taste of what it is like to be living an intense cold, winter camping is the way to go. It would be a great experience to set up a tent on the snow where you will sleep, eat, and hang out. A warm bonfire in the middle of your camp sure sounds something for the books. This activity would need thorough planning and preparation. You can join groups that are trained to organize this kind of outdoor activity or organize a winter camping of your own. Winter camping is not for everyone so make sure you are ready for it before attempting to brave the harsh weather.

Reminder:
As with any adventure, it is advisable to observe safety measures to avoid any untoward incidents. It is wise to do necessary precautions before setting out for an adventure such as donning appropriate attire and bringing winter gear. Winter can get so extreme as well so do not forget to monitor the weather bulletin before heading outdoors. You may also want to keep a copy of hotline numbers you can contact in case of an emergency.

Adventures are not exclusive to sunny days and fair weather. In fact, people always longing for new experiences can see opportunities for adventure in everyday life and in every season. So for a happier and more memorable winter this year, start planning your winter adventures today

Brad and Julie DuncanThree Cool Adventures to Try During Winter Months
Read More

Vital Factors to Consider When Choosing A Charity To Support

Your decision to venture into philanthropy will likely be followed by a series of questions. You may start to ponder why you want to support altruism projects. It will not be surprising either if you start wondering about how to be an effective philanthropist. Another important question you want to answer is: how to choose which organization or cause to support? There are so many altruistic groups out there but sadly, not everyone is genuinely doing a noble deed. Some are bogus charities while some genuine ones lack dedication and commitment to truly make a difference. You surely do not want to see your initiatives to help go to waste so there is nothing wrong in being meticulous in deciding the charity to support. To help you sort out the best organizations from the bad ones, the following are factors you may want to consider:

Good charities are not stingy with information.

It is but natural that you want to gather as much information as you can about a group before you can assess if it will be worth the effort. Ideally, there should be many ways to read up about the background of the group you are eyeing to be affiliated to. Nowadays, you can expect them to have a social media page, an official website, or a printed brochure where their mission, goals, and projects are conveyed in detail. In case the said sources are not available, a legitimate charitable organization should at least have a contact number that you can call for inquiries. Of course, you can expect its staff to have adequate knowledge about their group. However, it is likely time to move on to your next option if a charity seem to be stingy in providing information or cannot explain their purpose clearly.

Good charities provide updates about their achievements.

Along with having a solid mission and vision, a good charity also updates their supporters about the outcomes of their projects. You will be more confident that you are working with a legitimate and reputable group if transparency is obviously not a problem. Thus, if a group conducted a fundraising event, it is but fitting to report the total number of funds collected and a breakdown of how it was utilized. This is essential to further inspire people to give.

They reflect your own values and preferences.

To further make your charitable works rewarding, you want to choose a group that supports a cause that holds a special meaning to you. It can also be a cause that coincides with your passion and interests. For example, pet lovers will be eager to work with an organization pushing to end animal cruelty. Likewise, you will be eager to work with a charity supporting medical treatments if you are close to someone battling a fatal disease,  Of course, charities with causes you are unfamiliar with can still be a good option, but you may need added motivation to volunteer your time or resources in it. On the other hand, by considering your own values and interests, philanthropy will cease to feel like work or obligatory because you love what you are doing.

People who are purposely doing philanthropy understand that it comes with a responsibility. It is not a single act where you simply give money or donate items to support a cause. Instead, you continue to support a cause in an aim to see the positive changes that your actions bring. Your goal is possible if you start your philanthropic journey by wisely picking the best charity. 

Brad and Julie DuncanVital Factors to Consider When Choosing A Charity To Support
Read More

Four Simple Hacks To Make Leadership A Lot Easier

Leadership is surely not a role for people who want things easy. More often than not, this job comes with many tasks, huge responsibilities, and high expectations. However, if your wish is to be a competent leader, you do not allow the said challenges to scare you away from the job of supervising people. Instead, you strive to develop hacks and tactics that will help you rise above the overwhelming duties that come with leadership. Current and aspiring leaders may find the tips that are briefly discussed below helpful:

Plan and organize your day.

Success and idleness rarely go together. Therefore, leaders should aim to be as productive as possible. However, it will be harder than ever to maximize your productivity if you do not know the things you want to accomplish. Planning and listing your tasks for the day may be an age-old tactic but many still avoid doing it. It is therefore wise to start your day with a plan. Another option is to list down your goals for the day the night before. Listing too many goals can backfire so you may want to narrow down your goals to the most important things you want to achieve.

Welcome feedback.

Good communication is a major factor in effective leadership. Ideally, you and your team should be on the same page when it comes to matters that involve the group. One way to ensure this is by giving feedback and welcoming feedback from your members at the same time. Making the exchange of feedback a regular habit paves the way for the group to communicate more efficiently. As a leader, you gain insights on how you can further enhance your leadership skills. For the members, it sends a message that you are genuinely concerned about the growth of your people, which can motivate and empower.

Delegate tasks.

Are your tasks piling up by the minute? You do not have to panic because the seemingly impossible situation can be solved by simply assigning some of the duties to your members. Attempting to do everything will likely lead to burnout. It can also make your team members feel bored and unappreciated. On the other hand, trusting your people with certain tasks will lighten your workload and at the same time lift he group’s morale. You also train the skills of possible future leaders in your group. 

Encourage learning and innovation.

Wise leaders know the value of continuous learning. To stay ahead and relevant, it is necessary to keep up with the latest trends and invest in continuous education. You can make it easier by seeking advice and suggestions from your team. A monthly contest where members can pitch new ideas that the team can start is one example. You can also organize a weekly meeting where members report about a new trend or share something they learned to the group. Fostering a culture that encourages learning and innovation will certainly make the whole team stronger.

Needless to say, leadership is a highly stressful job. However, the best leaders know how to cope with these demands and even turn them to their advantage. Thus, when things start to feel heavy and unmanageable, take a moment to remember that many things can be solved with a simple hack.

Brad and Julie DuncanFour Simple Hacks To Make Leadership A Lot Easier
Read More

5 Ways Traveling Can Help In Your Personal & Professional Growth

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.
-Anonymous

People have a variety of options when it comes to fun and adventure. However, if your wish is to enjoy and learn at the same time, traveling is the way to go. Meeting new people and seeing new places open vast opportunities for lessons that can help you grow personally and professionally. You may not realize it at once but traveling changes you. As you explore unfamiliar territories, you may find your views on certain matters changing as well. In many ways, you can gain fresh perspectives and acquire new skills. The following are some ways on how travel brings about personal and professional improvements:

Personal Improvements.

  • Boosts self-esteem.
    Even with the planning and preparation, going somewhere new can still feel like an adventure into the unknown. You are technically leaving your comfort zone so It is normal to feel excited and nervous at the same time. As a traveler, you learn to cope with unexpected moments and even turn it to your advantage. The ability to deal with unavoidable travel woes increases your confidence to face any adversary that may come your way. 
  • Increases self-awareness.
    As Aristotle said, “ Knowing thyself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Self-awareness is important because it allows you to fully understand your wants, needs, and limits. This means you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses that will help you set realistic goals and avoid mistakes. Knowing oneself will require time for reflection which you can get from traveling. The new scenery can also help you see yourself in a new light making it easier to understand yourself better.
  • Increases general knowledge.
    Traveling is like opening a treasure chest of knowledge. For people hungry for knowledge, every turn in your journey is a chance to learn something new. This is information that you cannot learn just from reading books or watching documentaries. You can learn a new language or be adept at a new skill. Bits of info and trivia you pick up during your escapades increase your general knowledge.

Professional Improvements

  • Improves communication and organizational skills.
    You may not give much thought on the way you communicate when you are in your hometown because people generally talk the same way. On the other hand, you may find yourself paying more attention to your speaking, listening, and comprehension skills when you are in a place where people speak a different language. As you go about from place to place, you also learn to be conscious of how you organize your time and things. Poor communication and organizational skills can jeopardize your vacation so you find ways to improve it. With better communicating and organizing techniques, you will certainly increase your value as a professional. 
  • Discover wonderful opportunities.
    Companies are always looking for fresh ideas, which can sometimes be hard to come by. It is especially difficult to think creatively if you stay in the same place day in and day out. Traveling, on the other hand, can make you discover new ventures and ideas. Who knows? You may see a product or system that is not yet available in your hometown. New things you see from traveling can help you come up with ideas that can be a hit back home.

Traveling may be considered an expensive and exhausting hobby but exploring different destinations give many benefits that make it all worth it. Make the most out of your travel experiences by welcoming changes that help you become a better person.

Brad and Julie Duncan5 Ways Traveling Can Help In Your Personal & Professional Growth
Read More

Three Important Roles That Mindfulness Play In Leadership

“The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.”
– Thích Nhất Hạnh

The ability to remain calm under pressure and stay focused in the midst of problems  – these are just a few traits we expect from people of great wisdom and character. Since we usually hold leaders in high esteem, it is but natural for us to assume (or require) that the head of a group possesses the said characteristics. However, as the world continues to get increasingly competitive, staying cool amid stressful situations is definitely not easy. One thing that can help leaders overcome this challenge is through mindfulness.

What is mindfulness and how to practice it?

We are often oblivious to it but our minds tend to wander all the time. This is why in one or more instances, you probably find yourself guilty of the phrase, “physically present but mentally absent.”  You want to avoid this by practicing mindfulness which is simply the process of training your mind to stay in the moment. Mindfulness can trace its origins in Buddhist teachings and has been used as a basis in designing therapy and wellness programs. 

It is a process of controlling thoughts so you manage to deliver the most appropriate reaction to a certain situation. Meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises are some of the techniques you can use to develop mindfulness. Since mindlessness potentially robs you of the opportunities of the present moment, everyone is bound to benefit from practicing mindfulness. It will most especially be helpful in improving leadership skills. Some of the benefits a leader can gain from it are briefly discussed below:

Promotes self-care.

Too often, leaders find themselves juggling several tasks at once as they try to fulfill  the enormous responsibilities that come with their position. Sadly, this attitude often leads to burnout and stress. Mindfulness, on the other hand opens your eyes to the reality that multitasking does not always lead to productivity. It teaches you to slow down and relax, allowing you to give yourself proper care.  By making self-care a priority, you also make work-life balance possible. In the end, a well-rested leader is most often a better leader. 

Improves work quality.

Mindfulness encourages your mind to tackle one task at a time. This practice may seem to be a slow process compared to others who try to do several things simultaneously. However, giving one task your undivided energy and attention will likely result in an output of higher quality. With more time to polish your work, you also avoid errors and create excellent work.

Strengthens mind power. 

We live in an unpredictable world but while it is almost impossible to control many circumstances, mindfulness teaches us that we can always control our reactions to it. Leaders who follow this principle learn to deal with any situation without breaking down or panicking. As they train their minds to rise above any circumstances, they can successfully avoid being distracted in a chaotic environment. They can likewise be able to make better decisions even during a crisis. 

Leadership is definitely not easy but it doesn’t have to feel like a heavy weight on your shoulders all the time. More likely, a simple change in your mindset can make all the difference. With that, you may want to begin practicing mindfulness today. 

Brad and Julie DuncanThree Important Roles That Mindfulness Play In Leadership
Read More

Three Travel Tips to Take Better Pictures on Your Next Trip

We’ve all returned home from an amazing trip, looking forward to posting pictures on Facebook or Instagram, only to discover they aren’t “post-worthy.” No one wants to show off a dull sunset, scene-ruining photobombs, or wayward thumbs that accidentally find themselves in front of the camera’s lens. So how can you avoid these common mistakes? Here are three travel tips on how to take better pictures on your next vacation.

1. Maximize What You’ve Got

Most tourists travel light, bringing nothing more than their cell phones, and that’s perfectly fine. Many professional photographers are quick to admit that it’s not the camera, but technique that creates the best results. So if all you’ve got is your phone, don’t count yourself out.

  • Cell Phone Photography
    Start with the basics. We unintentionally smudge both the front and back lens through normal use of our phones. So before you take a picture, pause to wipe off your camera’s lens. Now that your lens in clean, it’s time to focus on your screen. Go into the camera app’s settings and turn on the grid feature to help you better frame your scene. Last, use the advanced features to your benefit. Modern smartphones are packed with photo features. Play around with your settings, or head over to YouTube for a tutorial on all your phone has to offer.  

2. Plan Ahead

The second way to become an enviable vacation photographer is to plan ahead. There are many factors that go into bringing your photos to life. Most can be controlled with a little planning. 

  • Time of Day
    First, consider your location of choice. Getting the perfect shot, in popular area, during peak visitation hours is extremely difficult. But if you show up early in the morning, or later at night, your chances of success increase exponentially. Also remember to be mindful of nature. Lighting is one of the biggest factors that play into how a photo turns out. If it’s too bright, the photo will be overexposed. If it’s too dark, you won’t be able to clearly see your subject. So before you plan your trip itinerary, make a list of the locations that you want to photograph and schedule your visits accordingly. 
  • Be Patient
    Even in the best of conditions, it may still come down to being patient (with yourself, your scenery and your camera). Sometimes you’ll need to take the same picture more than once, at different angles, in various light, after adjusting your camera settings multiple times. Don’t let the process deter you from getting your shot! Know that everyone has faced the same challenge and what matters most is the end result. If you get frustrated, take a deep breath, or pass your camera off to someone else for a while, but don’t give up! 

Upgrade

One of the most effective ways to take better vacation pictures is to make a few upgrades! 

  • Knowledge
    Upgrade your skills! Although things can get technical pretty quickly, investing a bit of time into mastering aperture, shutter speed and ISO can quickly improve your photography skills. Fortunately, there are many videos, articles and books that offer detailed explanations of each. Before your next trip, set aside time to study and practice so you’ll be ready to jump into action with no hesitation.
  • Equipment 
    The last, and most expensive step, is to upgrade your equipment. Cameras and lenses today are manufactured to conveniently accommodate the trickiest of conditions. Even the accompanying accessories can make all the difference in capturing impressive vacation pictures. If you are open to making a financial investment, it’s worth the effort to research tripods, DSLR and mirrorless cameras, lenses, and even editing software like Lightroom or Paintshop Pro

Pictures are a physical reminder of the memories we’ve created over the years. Having the ability to capture perfect photos with your loved ones is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Why not work on living up to your full vacation-photographer potential? Next time you are ready to plan some time away, remember these three photography tips to ensure you’ll return home with memories worth posting. 

Brad and Julie DuncanThree Travel Tips to Take Better Pictures on Your Next Trip
Read More

4 Stress-Relieving Adventures to Pursue this Summer

You’ve worked hard for the first half of the year, and now it’s summer. What a perfect reward! For most, the summer months are enjoyable because of the warmer weather, water activities, freedom to wear lighter, more comfortable clothes, and flexibility to vacation. However, the fun isn’t limited to just those few perks. Here are four stress-relieving adventures to pursue this summer. 

Book a Quick Staycation

The best things about vacations are obvious. Unwinding with your friends and family, touring new areas, and taking in unseen sights are all great reasons to excitedly book a flight. But the downside of traveling is equally obvious: travel expenses, securing vacation days away from work, and finding the time to plan a trip. If you want to avoid the high airfare and extended rental car fees, try booking a staycation! Keep it local and schedule some fun at a resort near home. Staycations are flexible, can save money, and are ideal for those who are in need of rest and relaxation but are short on time. So, if you want to eliminate a bit of travel stress, a staycation is your best bet. 

Pursue a Passion Project 

When we think of summer learning, children are usually the first group who come to mind. Fortunately, summer classes are for adults too! With all of the stress of life, investing time in yourself can fall to the bottom of your priority list. So push the reset button this summer and take some time to pursue a passion. There are many great opportunities for adults to experience structured sessions to enjoy a hobby or learn a new skill. If you’re having trouble choosing a subject, consider what you find enjoyable, calming, or entertaining. To find classes, a little online research goes a long way, but if you want to be more hands-on in your pursuit, visit or call your local library, art museum, or community/recreation center to learn which classes are available. Not only will pursuing a passion help fill your time, but it will also provide a sense of productivity at the end of your summer. 

Tackle a Fear

For those willing to exercise their courage and strive to be better, this one’s for you. Take some time for self reflection to identify the fear you feel most ready to pursue. Maybe you want to finally be able to speak in front of a crowd, squash your fear of heights or dance like nobody’s watching. Whatever the case may be, make it your goal to tackle your fear this summer, so you’re able to take on the rest of the year with your head held high and your fear proudly conquered. 

Attend a Festival 

Summer can be a great time to be outdoors while being a part of an exciting event. Throughout the summer you will be able to find different types of festivals to enjoy with friends, your spouse, or even your little ones. Kid-friendly festivals centered around art or animals are popular throughout the summer, making it possible for your kids to join in on the fun. Occasionally, family festival tickets are offered at a discount at your local grocery store. If you decide to leave the kids at home, adult events can include full weekends of music and high-end culinary and wine festivals. 

There are endless ways to make the most of the summer time. Don’t let the long days full of sunshine and good weather go to waste. Use these four stress-relieving activities to take a much needed break and make new memories.

Brad and Julie Duncan4 Stress-Relieving Adventures to Pursue this Summer
Read More

3 Ways Wise Leaders Make Team Meetings More Productive

Along with so many other responsibilities, a leader is also tasked to call and conduct team meetings. Unfortunately, a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review showed that not everyone is thrilled to attend meetings. For many people, sitting through a meeting is unnecessary, boring, and unproductive. Others even blame meetings for failure to finish an assigned task. Still, in spite of its unpopularity, team meetings are not something you can easily dismiss. 

These scheduled sessions serve many important purposes such as keeping up with members, updating overall goals, and discussing solutions to problems. Therefore, it is a challenge for leaders to ensure that the time taken  to talk with the whole team will not go to waste. With a few pointers, you can make a group look forward to insightful and productive meetings. Check out the following suggestions:

Announce the key questions/topics beforehand.

Ideally, a leader expects everyone in the meeting to actively participate but this is not always the case. Often, the leader and a few people are the only ones doing the talking while the majority choose to sit back and keep silent. It is not entirely because some people are uninterested or have no ideas to share. Most probably, some people just need some time to think things through and understand a topic before blurting out their opinions. Others may also hesitate to talk for fear of committing mistakes. To give everyone a chance to speak their mind, a leader can inform the team of the topics to be discussed and the questions to be asked before the actual meeting takes place. This way, meetings cease to feel like a classroom setting where students are about to take an oral exam. Instead, you give everyone a chance to prepare about the topics and ponder the answers to give. Moreover, this technique even increases the chance to get better suggestions from the team.

Prepare an agenda and follow a schedule. 

Meetings are notorious for being time-wasters. Due to dilly-dallying and pointless talks, a one-hour meeting can easily turn into a 4-hour discussion. The worst part is to discover that in the end, no issue was resolved or any plan created. To avoid these traps, it is a must to set clear objectives for every meeting organized. Along with setting goals, the leader should also prepare a detailed timetable of the flow of the meeting. A specific time should be set for each topic or issue so the leader will be alert when the team is already spending way too much time on a small issue. It will also prevent the meeting from going towards the wrong direction. To make it a team goal to achieve something worthwhile in the meeting, it is best if the leader lays out the agendas for everyone to see. 

 Hold meetings in a new location.

Take note of how people react when you remind them about an upcoming meeting. If your meeting reminder is rarely met with enthusiasm, a simple change of venue can make all the difference. You may have been conducting your meetings in a specific room in your office for the longest time so how about booking a place where the whole gang can go to discuss? The change of scenery is likely to spark excitement so the meetings can also serve as an easy treat for the group. This simple change shows how a leader values the meeting time and can ultimately inspire members to contribute more to achieving the goals for the discussion.

Meetings and the way you conduct them are crucial in the growth and success of a team. Among others, it can prevent miscommunication problems and boost everyone’s spirit. If not done right though, inefficient meetings can even prevent a team from reaching targets. A great leader knows the right techniques to make every meeting a big step towards the completion of goals. 

Brad and Julie Duncan3 Ways Wise Leaders Make Team Meetings More Productive
Read More