How to run a more effective meeting
We have all been stuck in a bad meeting or conference call. You arrive on time, just to find out that other attendees are late. There is no clear agenda, someone offers ideas only to be shoot down by others. There is no clear conclusion or action plan and at the end of meeting you felt like you have wasted your hour.
Effective meetings leave all participants knowing more than they started with and also knowing the plan for the future and their role in that plan.
So, what makes a meeting effective? We have summarized 3 points below:
1. The meeting has an objective.
2. Start on time. End on time
3. There is an outcome.
1. The Meeting's Objective
An effective meeting serves a useful purpose. This means that in it, you achieve a desired outcome. For a meeting to achieve this outcome, or objective, you have to be clear about what it is. Too often, people call a meeting to discuss something without really considering what a good outcome would be just to be seen to be doing something.
- Do you want a decision?
- Do you want to generate ideas?
- Are you communicating some information?
- Are you expecting to receive information?
- Are you making plans/ forecasting?
Before you do any meeting planning, you need to focus your objective. With the end result clearly defined, you can then plan the contents of the meeting, and determine who needs to be present.
Think about what the participants need to know in order to make the most of the meeting time? And, what role are they expected to perform in the meeting, so that they can do the right preparation. If it's a meeting to solve a problem, ask the participants to come prepared with a viable solution. If you are discussing an ongoing project, have each participant summarize his or her progress to date and circulate the reports amongst members.
Setting the meeting agenda seems like an obvious requirement, but most meetings start with no agenda. The meeting’s agenda does not need to be onerous but should be sent in advance.
The agenda provides a compass for the conversation, so the meeting can get back on track if the discussion wanders off course.
Tip: If you cannot define an agenda, don’t have the meeting
2. Start on time. End on time
Successful meetings respect our most valuable resource: time.
Time isn’t just money, it’s also a sign of respect. By making the most efficient use of your colleagues’ time, you convey a simple but powerful message: I know your time is valuable and I’m not going to waste it. Leaders set the example. When you start meetings on time, members know what to expect. Most will immediately respond by following your example and showing up on time. They want to avoid walking in to the meeting late with all eyes on them.
Just as important as starting on time is ending on time. A definitive end time will help ensure that you accomplish what’s on your agenda and get people back to their work promptly.
Tip: Meetings should not last more than 60 minutes
Make sure that everyone in the meeting knows who is taking minutes before the meeting starts.
For a meeting to be effective whoever it is that is taking minutes needs to confirm before the end of the meeting what has happened, whats been agreed, who’s action they are. A good checklist for minutes is:
- Record attendees
- Record information reviewed (report / proposals)
- Record actions agreed, who is responsible and when they are due by.
Minutes should be very succinct and not a long prose on what was discussed word for, just a summary of what was agreed. Minutes should be sent out within a few hours of a meeting keeping the information live and actionable.
Tip: Minutes should be less than 1 page and sent same day as meeting
With this few pointers, we hope your future meetings can go better planned with more effective results and increased productivity!