One major question to ask before you begin any meeting is to ask if such a meeting is necessary in the first place. Just because a meeting has been planned in advance, always consider the need for the meeting.
Consider the duration of the meeting, how long have you booked it for an hour when you only need half an hour, half an hour when all it needs is a 15 minute catch-up or could it be taken care of with a phone call. You can book times for phone calls also.
Then having decided there is a need for a meeting, you should spend sufficient time in planning to ensure the meeting runs efficiently and is as productive as possible. Planning can include the following aspects:
Produce a draft agenda and then show it to people who will be involved in the meeting. Consider their comments. The agenda needs to include all those items relevant to the company and to current projects. Delete any item which is not relevant and then, if necessary, adjust the order of agenda items making sure the top priority matters are discussed first.
Set times against each agenda item. Then ask someone to be the time keeper to keep things on track. This helps ensure people don’t carry on about irrelevant topics and all the agenda items get covered.
Have you made sure that everyone who can contribute to the meeting has been invited? Any meeting will be delayed and even items will be postponed if there is no input from somebody who should be at the meeting but is not. Basically, all this causes I rework!
Having specific goals is vital to the productivity of any meeting. By listing what needs to be achieved, you are better able to set the agenda and know who to invite.
Preparation is so important for any meeting and not just for the organiser. If there are papers relevant to the agenda then such material should be distributed well before the meeting. This enables all participants to prepare for the meeting and this makes for more efficient and more productive sessions. So many times a meeting is stalled because someone hands out a report which nobody has seen up until that moment. The better prepared participants become, the more productive and successful the meeting. As a participant make sure you have read the materials and have prepared any notes required in advance.
Minute taking is essential for all meetings but there are ways to make this activity truly effective. ‘Less is more’ is good advice but so too is a clear listing of what is required to be done. Signing off on a task is fine but more important is the precise description in the minutes of what still needs to be done. Such precise wording assists in the planning of future meetings. Such minute taking will include:
- The task yet to be completed needs to be named
- The person responsible for the task is listed
- When the task is due for completion
- A description of completed tasks and
- A record of decisions that have been made
Another simple but sometimes ignored principle is punctuality. Being late for a meeting means it either doesn’t start on time or drifts until everyone who should be there is there. Or you have to repeat what has been said when the others arrive. Make it a rule that you don’t repeat yourself, or you can go so far as putting in place a punishment for tardiness, say a donation to a charity jar. But really make sure you follow through in the importance of punctuality.
Leadership is vital. Strong and purposeful chairing of the meeting will bring all attendees into the meeting and keep things moving. Participants need to feel they are important and their views taken seriously.
Meetings are essential but poorly planned and badly run meetings cost time and money. It only takes common sense and good business principles to ensure your meetings are efficient and effective.
Why not get started on your effective meeting management today.
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