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Effective Meetings


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Properly planned and run meetings can save time, motivate and resolve problems

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Effective Meetings

  1. 1. Effective Meetings Properly run meetings can save time, increase motivation, productivity and solveproblems. But badly run, they waste time, money, resource and have no value.I ‘ll bet some of you spend half your working day Often a meeting will comprise more than one of thesein meetings. Of those, half are not really worth having elements, which is OK as long as they are notand in those that are, half the time is wasted. Not only confused.For example, don’t sell when you’re meant tothat, many meetings are a waste of money. Little at- bechatting and don’t present information whentention is often paid to the cost in time of those who problemsolving.Let people know what theattend. meeting is aboutGood meetings don’t just happen; they need to beprepared for. An agenda lets people know what toexpect provides an order for dealing withDecide what kind of meeting you want issues andgives people opportunity to considerThere are four key types of meeting. discussion pointsand include or exclude themselves. It• Selling, where someone is pitching something means you alsohave to think about the structure of the• Status, where information is being shared meeting, whichis no bad thing.• Problem Solving, where ideas are being brainstormed• Chit-Chat, where everyone has a good gossip
  2. 2. invite people who need to be there SchedulingIt’s easier to get a positive outcome if the right people Try to schedule meetings early in the day or mid-attend a meeting. The general rule is that the more morning or mid-afternoon when people are morepeople you have in a meeting, the less likely it is to likely to be alert. Avoid scheduling first thing in theachieve anything. There’s also nothing worse than being morning, the first morning or last afternoon of thein a meeting to which you can contribute nothing. working week, the last hour of any work-day andDon’t go to meetings out of habit, only go if they are particularly, the first hour after lunch (otherwisereally going to be useful to you or you’re going to be known as ‘the graveyard slot.’useful to the other participants. Interacting with others in the real world is a contact sport, turn your PC off, get your jacket on and get out there.Introduce everybody to everyone else Starting and finishingIt’s amazing how many meetings you sit through Start and finish on time. Time in meetings is alwayswithout knowing the person opposite you. Make sure different from ‘real’ time. A quick 10 minute catch upthere’s an introduction and warm up at the start of the can fill a whole morning. One reason for this is thatmeeting unless everyone really does know everybody work in meetings doesn’t actually start until someongelse. If this doesn’t happen and you don’t know someone, says “I’ve got another meeting to go to.”ask. A bad meeting can still be a good chance to networkwith others. People will be more likely to come to your meetings if they know they start and finish on time. ManyManage egos and control air-time people have back-to-back meetings and keeping them waiting will disrupt their day.Big meetings encourage people with big egos to go intodisplay mode. When there’s a need to problem solve, they Agree who does what and whenwill still be in information giving mode, often at highvolume and great length. These people need to be Never finish a meeting without getting closure oncontrolled and the best way of doing so is to state upfront, who is going to do wnat and when they are going towhat the purpose and structure of the meeting will be. do it by. Circulate some brief minutes with action points and who will be responsible for them.It can also be useful to state the outcome you want toachieve. Stick to the agenda and beware of hijacking. If When this is clear it will get your next meeting off onyou’ve called the meeting, make sure you get what you the right foot.need from it. If other people want other things, let themcall their own meetings. Follow throughInterruptions If you prepare well, get participation and your desired outcome but fail to follow through afterwards, you riskSome people thrive in situations where everyone talks at not achieving your purpose. Real work continues afteronce but others find it intimidationg and feel unable to a meeting is over. Sometimes people will takecontribute. To communicate effectively, try to ensure that responsibility for an action point but then forget abouteveryone has opportunity to speak and if necessary, try to it or demote it down their ‘to-do’ list. Check with themencourage those who don’t find it easy in group situations. how ther’re getting on and offer help if needed.On a practical level, divert any office phones, ask attendees Conflcit can often be resolved by touching base withto switch off mobiles, pagers or Blackberries. people after a meeting.
  3. 3. Technology Five steps to successful meetingsMeetings are important forums for getting buy-in. Whenpeople are engaged, they feel better because they know • Objectiveexactly what’s going on rather than getting information A meeting without a clear objective and an agenda thatby office memos or email. However, we’re all trying to sets out to accomplish that objective is a waste of time.reduce our carbon footprint these days and many companiesrestrict travel budgets within their environmental policies. • Preparation Read the agenda, any background material and prepareTele conferencing isn’t quite adequate anymore. Meeting any materialsattendees need to be able to see information and each other– especially if they are remote. Video conferencing has anincreasingly important part to play in meetings for people • Punctuality Arrive on time. Lateness is disruptive and geographically dispersed companies. • FocusMeetings fail because Stay on track in meetings. Cover the action points, clearly state the outcome of the meeting and distribute minutes.• their purpose is unclear • Get in and get out• there’s inadequate preparation ‘Action’ happens outside of meetings. Interacting with• the wrong people are invited others in the real world is a contact sport, turn your PC off, get your jacket on and get out there!• there’s a lack of participation• there’s no follow up