Meetings are a fact of organizational life. When conducted well, they are a great opportunity for increased productivity and ultimately bottom-line growth. However, inefficient and ineffective meetings represent a hidden cost draining people’s time and undermining potential for creative problem solving.
Why have meetings?
Meetings are the ideal platform to:
- engage and motivate your team
- communicate key strategies
- gain feedback on initiatives
- build relationships
- create new business opportunities
- deliver tangible business results
It is not unusual to hear people talk about meetings in negative and unproductive terms. Many describe them as a necessary evil that has to be suffered as opposed to energetic, collaborative events.
Effective meetings do not begin when participants enter a room, nor do they end when they leave the room. Only by addressing the before, during and after phases can a truly successful meeting be achieved – where objectives are met and things get done.
Top meeting tips
- Clearly identify and clarify your meeting objectives. Ensure that you have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve from the meeting and then communicate these objectives to participants so they can be fully prepared and feedback any updates that may influence the agenda.
- Identify the right people to have in the meeting to achieve these objectives. Based upon the objectives invite participants who are able to contribute to the agenda topics. All too often people are invited to meetings merely because they are part of a wider team, irrespective of whether the meeting is relevant to their area of the business. Everyone invited to a meeting should have an active role in contributing to the meeting’s success and outcomes.
- Create a highly-focused, yet flexible, agenda.Critically the agenda should be distributed to participants in advance of the meeting in order to provide feedback as in item 1 above. The agenda should also be designed to allow sufficient time for each item to be fully discussed in the time allowed. It is much more effective to have fewer agenda items that result in action points rather than many points that are not resolved.
- Identify and assign pre-meeting “prep-work” – so participants are prepared. Prep-work should be distributed prior to the meeting along with the meeting objectives and agenda. This has a two-fold effect. Firstly participants take ownership in the meeting before the start and are already fully prepared to contribute before the meeting even begins. Secondly, the meeting is established as work in progress, and rather than being an isolated event is part of the daily workflow.
- Maintain delegate engagement and focus to maximise individual contribution. This is achieved by asking delegates to write their thoughts down first without the influence of the rest of the group. This ensures that everyone participates and that all views are heard and taken into consideration thereby maximising individual contribution.
- Maximise the performance of the group as a whole, raising creativity and collective intelligence. Ask the group to collate all individual thoughts without judgement with each delegate explaining their rationale. The group is then fully informed and can collaboratively prioritise the key points. This maximises the group potential and the final result is a manageable, prioritised action list agreed and committed to by the group as a whole.
- Secure commitment on deliverables. Ensure all of the knowledge created and tasks assigned are electronically documented with simultaneous agreement of all present. In this way, valuable information is not lost and all participants leave the meeting knowing exactly what is expected of them after the meeting.
- Initiate transition to the next phase. By immediately distributing documentation/minutes created during the meeting to the participants and other stakeholders there will be no delay in action.
- People and projects are managed, results are measured and information is updated and shared.
By following these simple tips your meetings will become part of your everyday work flow. No longer will they be isolated, distracting events, they will drive continuous development – reaping results with very little financial investment