Like it or not, meetings are a fact of life. And they are
the lifeblood of every organization and group. They can be a necessary evil
or a useful tool for accomplishing important objectives. Whether they're good
or not, they do consume valuable time and energy. So how can you make sure
that you get value from them?
Here are ten tips to make your meetings better.
1. KNOW THE PURPOSE OF THE MEETING
If your meeting doesn't have a stated purpose, aim to get the purpose
articulated as soon as possible. It's easiest if the person calling the meeting
states a purpose when the meeting is called. It's worst if you spend all the
time of the meeting trying to define the purpose of the meeting. (This is
affectionately called "going around in circles" in many places).
Is it to report on events of the past week? Get direction from the boss?
Get ideas from other people attending? Brainstorm opportunities? Do joint
planning? The clearer the purpose, the greater the chances of a productive
2. IDENTIFY THE TYPE OF MEETING YOU
WANT TO HAVE
A staff meeting is different from a brainstorming meeting is different
from a planning meeting. Be clear about the kind of meeting you want to have.
3. HAVE AN AGENDA
Make sure everybody has a copy of the agenda
-- in advance, if possible. Even if you're going to do brainstorming as part
of the meeting, allocate a set time for the brainstorming part.
4. HAVE A TRAFFIC COP
A "traffic cop" keeps track of topics and time. He/she keeps
people on track. This role is often played by the boss or the highest ranking
person in the meeting, but it's often effective to designate someone else.
And it's especially valuable to designate someone else when the boss gets
very involved in the content of the meeting (e.g., brainstorming).
5. ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION
You'll get better ideas and give a boost to morale when you have fuller
participation. Doing this is an art. But a failure to do it often leaves some
of the best ideas just sitting -- unarticulated -- in attendees' minds. Whether
out of shyness, risk aversion or for other reasons, people can often be uncomfortable
speaking up. One way to get quiet people's ideas into the meeting is simply
to ask them — in an encouraging way — for their perspective on
what's been said.
6. START AND END ON
This is a tricky one, but one that can lead to greatly increased efficiency.
When people know that the meeting starts and stops on time, they can plan
for it — and their expectations will shift to accommodate it. But, if
they know the meeting always starts 10 minutes late, they'll begin to aim
for the "real" starting time as opposed to the "official"
starting time. And they may show up even later than 10 minutes after the official
7. APPOINT SOMEONE
AS "SECRETARY" TO KEEP TRACK OF ACTION ITEMS
Meetings consume valuable time, so — logically -- they had been
be worth the expense. If you think about it, a one-hour meeting with 10 people
attending consumes ten hours of working time overall. So it's important to
get the most value from the meeting.
A great way to do this is to make sure that decisions and "action items"
(specific tasks that need to be accomplished) are recorded. It's all too easy
for busy people to scatter after a meeting, get caught up in what was already
waiting for them at their desks and forget about decisions and actions agreed
to at the meeting. But, having a "recording secretary" of the meeting
makes sure that everybody — after the meeting is over — has a
record of what was agreed to and what actions they need to take.
8. MAKE SURE ALL "ACTION
ITEMS" ARE ASSIGNED
Whenever there is an "action item," make sure it is assigned
to someone. Also make sure that it is clear what action is supposed to be
taken -- and that the next required action is understood and has a deadline.
If you're the one leading the meeting or making the assignment, make sure
to ask if the assignment clear and if the person to whom it's been assigned
has any questions about it. If areas of confusion can't be easily and quickly
cleared up at the meeting, schedule a time for a one-on-one meeting.
9. CIRCULATE BRIEF
NOTES OF THE MEETING WITH ACTION ITEMS IDENTIFIED
The emphasis here is on "brief." These days people have so
little time, you need to get right to the point if your notes are to be useful.
And circulate them promptly — within 24 hours after the meeting ends.
10. HAVE SOME FUN
Nobody will enjoy staff meetings or other kinds of meetings if they're
stiff and boring. Figure out a way to have some fun while all this work is
going on. Be willing to tell a good-natured joke, make sure to compliment
people when they've done a good job, and look for opportunities to involve
Often our role in enterprises includes facilitating
business meetings; weekly, biweekly or monthly, depending on the strategic
This is a great way to discover the effectiveness that
Dale Bruder provides.
The investment of a coach facilitating your enterprise
business meetings will be returned in clear communication, initiative
assignments and reports of results.
month commitment required
Contact us at
520-331-1956 for an assessment of your enterprise meeting facilitation