MEETINGS ARE HERE TO STAY
Invest in managing your meetings more effectively
A meeting without an OBJECTIVE and an outcome is really just a gathering and probably waste of everyone’s time. If you are struggling with the purpose and outcome, reconsider.
- PLAN PLAN PLAN (AND PREPARE)
In the words of Benjamin Franklin: ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’
Give your meeting a meaningful name. Something that will let the attendees know what meeting they are being invited to and why.
Meetings need a purpose – State the purpose of the meeting (often you will find that by articulating your purpose means you realize you do not need to hold an expensive meeting). Create a short terms of reference, something you can explain at the start of the meeting to ensure everyone in the room understand clearly why they are there.
How many meetings (especially when you first join a company) have you sat through wondering what everyone is talking about and why you are there?
A simple terms of reference would have resolved this issue.
Communicate the meeting details such as time, location, dial in details if relevant, duration clearly to all attendees.
And if relevant and possible, communicate the date of the next meeting.
Consider your attendees very carefully. Why are they being invited? Are they adding value to the meeting or are they adding costs by attending to the company?
Ensure the attendees are clear on why they are being invited. Also ensure they are clear on their role at the meeting. Do they have a role to play or are they only attending to observe or take note?
IF they own an agenda item, consider allowing them to attend only their section if possible.
Build an effective agenda, with times and owners for each agenda item. And stick to the agenda! Although you do not need to state it, each agenda item should have a purpose and terms of reference in line with the overall meeting purpose and terms of reference. You might find yourself removing agenda items once you start considering their purpose.
- MANAGING YOUR MEETING
Start your meetings on time. And finish on time.
The start of the meeting is not time for making coffee, having a quick catch up chat etc. Be ruthless. Your attendees will soon realize you mean business and your company will reap the rewards of the cost saving. And your attendees will respect your meetings by turning up on time (well prepared).
Unless you are very sure that everyone in the room / on the line knows one another AND understands what role each one is playing in the meeting, spend 5 minutes introducing all the parties.
Purpose & Agenda
State the purpose of the meeting and review the agenda with attendees to ensure everyone is clear why they are at the meeting and what the expected outcomes are.
During the meeting it is important to stick to your agenda and your allocated time. This makes for effective minute taking as well.
Have a clear process for managing outstanding actions. The first item on the agenda should be the review of outstanding actions. Completed actions should not be reviewed during the meeting; they should be visible to management who can review prior to the meeting.
New actions & decisions
Is it really an action or just a note / comment? Too often actions are either repetitive or when analyzed, really mean nothing at all.
Confirm with your minute taker when you have an action point, confirm who is responsible and confirm when this is due. Don’t just ramble on expecting the minute taker to guess or to wade through copious notes after the meeting.
In general minute takers (unless there is a legal reason) should really only be taking down actions and decisions.
- GETTING MINUTES OUT AFTER THE MEETING – OUTPUTS
Taking minutes during the meeting (if online, use a collaborative tool so that users can see what is being captured, if face to face, use a projector) and showing them on a screen, means your attendees will be ‘agreeing’ to what is captured and you can distribute these literally within minutes of finishing your meeting. Of course there are more formal meetings where management will want to approve minutes before they are distributed.
- USE THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB
Using the right tools for the job will enable you to be more effective in meeting management.
Historically many companies use Word or Excel, but we recommend using an online tool like Minutz, which, provides exactly this, the ability to capture the minutes during the meeting, the ability to distribute the minutes in a professional manner after the meeting, and the ability to store the minutes securely in a readily accessible manner.