A meeting that is not constructively planned, lacks a purpose, is not properly conducted and ends with no action points is exactly that. Yet, in business, a substantial amount of our time is spent in meetings that seem to be constructed from the off-set to fail.
The responsibility for a meetings success is largely down to the organiser, but the preparedness of the attendees can also ensure it achieves is aims.
So how do you make sure a meeting is successful?
Well, what is the purpose of a meeting? Simply put, from a business context, it is designed to achieve a decision(s) on an action or actions that will affect your business/project in some shape or form. If it is not going to do this, why are you holding the meeting?
Understand what you want addressed in the meeting and ensure that this is clearly understood from the agenda.
You must have one otherwise your meeting will simply not be effective and get hijacked by some pirate who wants to use it for airing concerns on another issue. Strong words perhaps, but we have all experienced this at some time or another.
The agenda should state…
- Time, place, duration, attendees and meeting purpose.
- List of agenda items to be covered off
- Urgent issues towards the top!
- Quick items should be placed first so they can get covered off otherwise you may not get to them.
- Avoid putting controversial topics together if possible i.e. vary the pitch and content of the meeting flow.
- Pop in some breaks if it’s a lengthy session.
- Time each section (if possible!).
- Limit the scope for any other business (AOB) by having the agenda fixed with no mention of AOB.
Then send the agenda out in advance.
Remember, if you have a meeting after lunch, most participants will be feeling the effects. Don’t put a heavy duty item first if this is the case. You want participation and interest so start with a topic that will allow this to occur.
Attendees should be invited based on the contribution they can make. If a person is not a decision maker or is not an expert required to explain a situation, then why are they coming? If an invitee is going to send a representative because they cannot attend, that representative must be able to commit to a decision on behalf of the original invitee – otherwise ask for someone else of defer the meeting until the main invitee can attend. Why? Because if you need that invitee to make a call, you will end up having another meeting anyway!
Attendees should be aware of their responsibilities in terms of preparation i.e. if they have to bring something to the meeting then they need to have this with them and be comfortable presenting it.
The above are the biggies, but don’t forget;
- Meeting venue – is the room suitable? Big enough? Too hot? Too cold?
- Are you going to supply refreshments?
- Do you need a whiteboard? Projector? Screen? Writing materials?
- Organise roles – chair (usually organiser), minute taker, time manager(if appropriate).
It’s really all about preparation – if you have it right, your meeting will work. If you don’t, expect to be back same time, same place discussing the same thing which is a waste of time, effort and cash!
I hope this was helpful! Any additions anyone?
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