Our lives are full of meetings. We can’t seem to do without them. Business meetings, community meetings, organizational meetings, league meetings, etc., seem to be among the norm. So here are a ten tips or rules for the road for making all your meetings productive.
Tip 1 — Establish Purpose and Objective for the Meeting
Solicit attendees for input as to the goal of the meeting (i.e., what issue do you want to discuss/resolve and what are the expected outcomes (i.e., what do you want to accomplish.)
Tip 2 – Set and Distribute an Agenda in Advance
Once you have a purpose and objectives create an agenda constructed around the purpose and the objectives. Distribute the agenda prior to the meeting. Include any documentation that will be needed at the meeting. Ask and expect attendees to read the materials prior to the meeting. In that way, value time at the meeting will not be consumed reading the meeting materials.
Tip 3 – Determine a Facilitator and a Note Taker
Assign the meeting role of facilitator and a note taker prior to the meeting. The facilitator will be responsible for running the meeting. Both the facilitator and the note taker will be responsible for issue meeting minutes.
Tip 4 – Establish a Start and End Time
Set the time the meeting starts and the time it ends. Respect people’s schedules by adhering to the established start and end times. If someone arrives, late start without them and do not start over when they arrive (even if it is the boss).
Tip 5 – Use Technology Effectively
PowerPoint slides, teleconferencing, webinars, electronic white boards… there are so many ways to conduct a meeting these days. There are so many technical tools to enhance meetings. Choose and use tools efficiently and effectively. Do not choose technology for the sake of having it; sometimes the old fashion paper flip chart work just fine.
Tip 6 – Keep Discussion Organized
The facilitator should keep the meeting moving, discussion organized and on track.
Tip 7 – Stick to the Agenda
Try not to stray or deviate from the agenda. If it becomes necessary, decide how to without extending the meeting time. For example, perhaps you shorten the time spent some agenda items, if you extend the time on others or add a new item to the agenda.
Tip 8 – Keep the Discussion Focused and On-point
Stick to the purpose and objectives. If attendees do not, the facilitator needs to focus the meeting back to the purpose and objectives.
Tip 9 – Recap at the End with Deliverables, Timelines and Responsibilities
At the end of the meeting summarize the outcome and the next steps. Deliverables should be established with timelines and parties accountable for completing should be determined.
Tip 10 – Follow-up with Minutes and other Documentation
The facilitator and note taker should issue meeting minutes. The minutes should include the deliverables, timelines and assigned responsibilities.
Following these tips will not necessarily guarantee a productive, successful meeting. Good meeting require a competent facilitator and attendees/participants who will adhere to these rules of the road. Set standards for meetings for your company, organizations, etc., and make it clear that all are expected to follow them. This will result in successful productive meetings.