Managing Your Way to More Effective Meetings

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Meetings are integral to business. Whether you are running a meeting or participating in a meeting, there are things that all of us can do to improve the overall success of every meeting. So, today’s post is some simple tips and tricks to make your meetings more effective.

First and foremost, do you need to hold a meeting? Meetings cost time and money, both of which are valuable. Hold meetings only when necessary, and ensure that they are concise and constructive. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the purpose of the meeting clear to everyone?
  • Does everyone need to attend the entire meeting?
  • Is there a better way of addressing the issues than having a meeting?
  • Are there other people who do not usually attend your meetings who might make a useful contribution this time?
  • Will the meeting benefit from the use of any visual aids?

Once you’ve answered the above questions then you can decide what kind of meeting you need. Is it an informal meeting, more formal, a 1-1 meeting, etc.? And of course, don’t forget the logistics. In this day and age it is not uncommon to have people conference in or even have a video link of some form. Don’t forget to make sure you remote attendees feel like they are part of the meeting.

The next two tips are near and dear to my heart. Have an agenda and set the time and stick to it. There is nothing worse than having meeting times not honored. Here is a format you might want to use for setting your meeting agenda‘s –

Purpose: describe the purpose of the meeting. Be as specific as you can.

Agenda: describe the agenda. Again, be specific. Sometimes it makes sense to put time blocks by each agenda item, as well as the presenter, if appropriate.

Logistics: this defines where the meeting will be held, what time, conference call-in and video link information as well as reminders to turn off cell phones, etc.

Outcome: this describes what you want to have occur by the end of the meeting. It might be a decision, a set of steps to move something forward, etc. Again, you want people to leave the meeting with a sense of accomplishment. This will also keep people focused on the agenda at hand as it should be all about obtaining the outcome.

As for meeting times, well, set them and honor them. If you have an hour meeting then your agenda needs to be realistic as to what you can cover in an hour.

And last but not least, here are two other quick tips if you are running the meeting.

  • If you are running the meeting, then you need to actively listen to others, facilitate the meeting and not talk throughout the entire meeting. You should be taking notes during the meeting which can be disseminated, if appropriate, after the meeting. Most people don’t enjoy meetings where the organizer dominates the conversation.
  • When action items are assigned, they need to be S.M.A.R.T –

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Resourced
Time-bound

For every action/activity that the meeting attendees feel need to happen, you need to make sure that there the action is clearly defined and measurable, has an owner responsible for it and has a due date. If your actions aren’t S.M.A.R.T they likely won’t get done on time.

There are many books written on effective meetings but these few simple tips will go a long way to improving the overall effectiveness of meetings within you r organization. In short, prepare for the meeting, hold the meeting, and then follow-up by sending out the minutes and making sure people are clear on their actions. If another meeting is required, you may want to think about scheduling it while everyone is there in the room with their calendars in front of them!

Let me know how this helps you save meeting time and money.

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