Heard any excuses similar to these lately…
“Sorry I can’t make the meeting, I MUST phone back that customer I’ve been ignoring for the past three years”
“Really? You sent 15 email reminders? Yesterday? Nope sorry, I didn’t see them. But I’ll be there next time.”
Meetings often aren’t seen as productive but a waste of time and convincing your colleagues that it will be worthwhile makes climbing Mt Everest look like a picnic. So what can you do to turn things around so that colleagues are so eager to make it to your meetings they arrive early, pen and paper in hand, eager to contribute?
A great meeting involves three stages:- pre meeting, the meeting itself and then follow up.
Preparation is the key
The first thing is to decide on an agenda. It’s best to keep meetings as short as possible so if you think your meeting could be a marathon one, move some of the topics of discussion to a later date.
Decide on a start and end time (remember: keep it as short as possible) and ruthlessly stick to it. Avoid scheduling your meeting during meal times or near the end of the working day; you’re unlikely to get the full attention of attendees if they are hungry or counting down the minutes to home time.
Make a list of who needs to be at the meeting. If all the agenda topics aren’t applicable to everyone on your list, then leave these people off the invite list. Only invite those who really need to be there.
Distribute the agenda before the meeting, letting attendees know when it will start and finish and how much time is allocated to each topic. Make sure colleagues who are required to give a presentation or provide information are given plenty of advanced notice.
Organise a meeting room. Does it have enough seating? Is it well ventilated, quiet and distraction-free? Does it have a projector, laptop, microphone or any other equipment you might need? Will you need to provide handouts, notepaper or pens for attendees?
During the meeting…
-Allow a few minutes of chatter to allow everyone to settle in, but keep it brief and most importantly… Start On Time.
-Kick off with a brief rundown of the agenda and how long will be spent on each topic.
-Keep the meeting on track. Discussions are great, but if they aren’t on topic then wrap them up or schedule it for further discussion at a later time.
-Give everyone a chance to contribute; don’t allow just a few people to dominate the discussion. If there are attendees who don’t speak up then ask them directly for their thoughts.
-Allow time for questions. If a question interrupts the flow of the meeting, jot it down and address it at the end.
-If a follow up meeting is needed, agree on a time and date before you wrap up your meeting.
-Ensure everyone is clear on what tasks they need to do post-meeting.
Once the meeting is over…
-Send out the minutes as quickly as possible, including the action items agreed on.
-Reply directly to any questions or concerns that you either didn’t have time for or didn’t have the answer available to you during the meeting.
Have you attended a lot of workplace meetings? What has worked for you and what do you think could be improved? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.