Eastside Preparatory School – Meeting Best PracticesThe Eastside Preparatory School (EPS) has been operating for 10 years. As the student body and facility has grown from 20 to over 300 today. The services which support the students, parents, teachers, facility and administration have also grown.The EPS Parents Association is one of those entities which have grown along with the school. The EPSPA leadership is currently evaluating the impact of the school's growth and the time effectiveness of current processes and procedures. We are seeking the expert direction of BizEnrich to advise and assist in adaptation of best practices in conducting EPSPA meetings. The motivation to seek this advise is the high value placed on the time and talents contributed by volunteers. The current Committee President is motivated to adopt best practices for conducting meetings appropriate for the size of the current EPS community.Desiree Eden, EPS PA Executive Committee President, has invited BizEnrich to provide a presentation as part of the EPS PA Kickoff Workshop on meeting best practices.
Do your meetings, sometimes, feel like this?
Conducting great meetings is as simple as A, B, C and D.
A is for Agenda. Your meeting agenda is more like a travel itinerary. Let’s suppose we are going on a trip to France. The itinerary is focus on France, not Greece, or Italy. The purpose of the trip is business, not vacation or visiting family. The trip starts at a certain time and we need to be at specific cities for a client meeting at certain times. We can arrive early but we cannot arrive late. We also need to be finished on time so we can move on to the next city. Our trip to France has very specific outcomes. Meeting agendas work the same way. The meeting is focused on one particular topic and there is a specific purpose with several expected outcomes. You must start on time and get to each agenda item on time. That will allow you to accomplish what you expected and you can finish on time.I see there are two basic purposes for meetings: informational or problem resolution. The outcome for an informational meeting may be a progress review, a rally for support or training.An outcome for a problem resolution meeting would either identify the problem, engage participants in problem solving, action planning or decision making.
B is to Be Prepared. The agenda must be prepared and distributed beforehand, so each participant knows what to expect. The same holds true for handouts. Participants will have an opportunity to read and review handouts before the meeting and not delay during the meeting. Each participant needs to come prepared for the meeting as well.Ensure the right participants are invited to the meeting. Invite only those necessary to reach outcomes. Prepare a short list of assignments. The timekeeper will hold everyone accountable for the time limits in the agenda. The taskmaster will ensure the discussions stay on track. The secretary will take minutes and distributed them to everyone after the meeting. If minutes need to be approved, it would be preferred to have the written notes in everyone’s hand while the proceedings are fresh in everyone’s mind.Verify the room size and layout is sufficient to accommodate the participants and the outcomes of the meeting. Test and rehearse with and audio-visual equipment beforehand.
It all comes down to C, conducting the meeting. For each meeting there is a beginning, a middle and an end. At the beginning, introductions of unfamiliar participants would always be appropriate. Restate the purpose for the meeting to begin on the right tone. And refer to the previously agreed to ground rules concerning: attendance, punctuality, conflict resolution, disrespectful behavior and participation. Often the ground rules are posted in the meeting room or frames on the conference table. Defining roles for the timekeeper, taskmaster and secretary at the beginning of the meeting would also be appropriate.During the meeting the timekeeper will assist with maintaining the discussion to the time slots in the agenda. The taskmaster will alert the participants when the topic gets off course. Gentle questions and suggestions can easily empower the group to stay on track. Other resources would be to place open items in the “Parking Lot” or table lower priority items to a subsequent meeting.At the conclusion of every meeting it would be important to review decisions with follow up action items. Draft an agenda and schedule the next meeting. Finally poll the participants to evaluate the meeting. What was done well and what could be done better?