We spend hours in meetings. Some of them are really good. Unfortunately far too many of them feel like a waste of time, something we all have far too little of. The following 7 tips will help to insure your meetings are valuable and productive.
1. Know what you want to decide
If you do not have something to decide, then evaluate whether you actually need to hold the meeting or whether there might be a better way to accomplish what you want. If you are just looking to share information is an e-mail or video a better way to handle it?
2. Right people/right type of meeting
If you know the issue(s) on which to be decided, the participants should flow naturally. The type of meeting should also mirror the decision(s) being made. If you are looking to design a new process this is a different meeting than looking to pass a new product along in a well-defined Phase Gate process.
3. Roles, roles, roles
Some of the roles that should be explicit when going into a meeting could include an Owner, a Facilitator, a Timekeeper, a Challenger (Devil’s Advocate), and a Note Taker. Other roles can be found by looking at the Belbin Team Role theory. The type of meeting and the culture of the group coming together helps to inform the necessary roles.
4. Agenda is king
Tied directly to the desired decision/objective of the meeting, there is no stronger tool in a meeting than the agenda as it sets the direction of the meeting. Getting input from the participants prior to the meeting but once the objective(s) has been settled can be very helpful in overcoming potential resistance and helping to set expectations.
5. Next Steps – gotta have ’em
Without explicit Next Steps then nothing will get done. We’ve all walked away from meetings and remarked that it was a bunch of good discussions but nothing will come of it. Publishing decisions and action items after every meeting will introduce a bias for action.
6. Pre-work – a pain but worth it
Depending upon the type of meeting this could be a lot or as little as reviewing the proposed agenda and replying with comments. We are all busy and so meeting pre-work is looked at as an annoyance. It is like exercising, you know that it is good for you and helps you operate more efficiently.
Next Steps evil twin. Without follow-up to make sure that the decisions taken get implemented or the next steps get done, meetings will become a farce that no one will take seriously. With follow-up, people will realize that what is said is meant and that things will actually get done.
Interested in putting these tips into action? Erimo Consulting ( http://www.erimo.com ) provides business guidance to professionals, managers, supervisors and all individuals looking for “real world” performance improvement and career development. He provides coaching, executive alignment and training, guiding you step-by-step as you seek greater success in your career and your organization.
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