Meetings are unavoidable…many say they are a complete waste of time, but there are steps you can take to make them as effective as possible. The very first thing is to think hard if a meeting is needed at all. Could this just as easily be handled by a well-crafted e-mail? If a meeting is absolutely needed, then following these 5 steps will improve your odds of success:
- The meeting should have a stated purpose or an agenda. When sending out a calendar invite, be sure to clearly state the purpose, the start and stop times and who is invited.
- There should be a start and stop time that is adhered to. Starting on time respects those who have arrived on time. Also, fight the tendency to recap what has been discussed for late arrivals…they should have to catch up on their own time.
- Invite only essential people. In looking over the goal of the meeting, think who will need to act on the decisions made and invite only them. Sometimes there is a tendency to invite extra people to get their opinions – but if they are not acting on the results, all that happens is the meeting drags on longer than is needed. Give the participants something to prepare for the meeting….this will also stimulate discussion. Let the participants know what you would like them to discuss….don’t just spring it on them during the meeting. There are no passengers at these meetings. On the other hand, it is important to keep anyone from dominating the meeting.
- Administrative – someone should keep track of the time and someone else needs to take notes. Make clear at the start of the meeting that all are expected to contribute and participate in the post-meeting work.
- Circulate the notes soon after the meeting. What’s critical here is to have names of those responsible for the follow-up next to the meeting note along with the agreed upon due date.
To keep the process tight, follow-up with those responsible for the various post-meeting work regularly and keep all members up to speed on the progress. If a second meeting is needed to finalize the project, be sure to have each member come prepared to discuss what they accomplished to finalize the results. Keeping meetings structured and organized vs. loose and free-flowing reduce time wasted and keep you on track for your goals. Please comment below if you have other ideas to share.