Wishing for Effective Meetings

August 30, 2011 by  Filed under: Management 

Last week a friend of iney posted the following update on Facebook: “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings’.” I’m sure we’ve all been in our share of meetings and caught ourselves thinking “I could be more productive actually working”. Here are a few of my favourite tips for making every meeting count.

  1. Schedule a regular meeting. This works well for team updates or for your higher maintenance clients. If you find a client phoning you consistently and randomly, that’s a good candidate for a regular scheduled meeting. It will reduce your interruptions and give them the added value of your full attention.
  2. Give as much notice as possible. This makes it more likely that all invitees will be available and it gives them time to prepare so you can make the most use of the time.
  3. Limit attendance. Smaller groups are more effective, but this can change for significant information distribution or project kick-offs. If the goal for the meeting is to make decisions or to get work done, invite the right people and as few of them as possible. This helps keep your meeting less complicated and less prone to extended discussions.
  4. Have a clear agenda and communicate it. List the topics to be discussed, how much time you’ll dedicate to each topic and who is the owner of the item. This gives the item owner fair warning that they’ll need to prepare for the meeting.
  5. Use a facilitator. If your topic is particularly complicated or you think there could be a lot of discussion, consider finding a facilitator. You can appoint someone from the team but sometimes, it might be a good idea to find an impartial person to keep you on track.
  6. Be strong, stay focused and help the team to get into the practice too. If a topic seems to be running too long or you find that it’s more complex than expected, defer the discussion to another time; note what and who you need to continue.
  7. Take Notes. You probably don’t need formal minutes for each meeting. In fact, I almost never see them anymore. But I do take notes during very important meetings where a lot of information has been covered or several action items are distributed. If you called the meeting and have taken notes, send them to the attendees as soon as possible; a week later is too late if you have action items for people.
  8. Create an action list. If action items came from the meeting track them. There’s no point in having a meeting or assigning actions if you don’t follow up on the real work.

So, those are my top tips for conducting effective meetings. It’s not so hard, just be as structured as possible and stay focussed. People have so many meetings to attend these days, make every one of them count!

Visit my website for more information about who I am and how I help people make work – work for them. http://www.firehorseinc.ca

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