Master Your Meetings
Take this three-step path to more effective meetings.
No one enjoys participating in disorganized and time-consuming meetings that don’t accomplish much. To ensure your next meeting doesn’t become one of those, follow these tips for before, during and after it.
Before the meeting
- Ask yourself why you’re meeting. Prepare a statement of purpose and list the goals that should be accomplished.
- Determine who needs to be there. Avoid having too many people by choosing a core group and communicating with other stakeholders. Make any necessary assignments. Recruit one meeting member to take notes during the meeting and document the group’s decisions.
- Share relevant information. Provide documents, statistics or other forecasts — anything that people need to read and understand before the meeting.
- Build consensus. Ask for pre-meeting input from meeting members, managers or other stakeholders, and then validate or modify your statement of the meeting purpose and goals. Collect and share comments in a document online and/or hold a conference call. The more issues you hash out prior to the meeting, the more focused it will be. Otherwise, you may spend too much time on side issues.
- Develop the agenda based on the pre-meeting discussions. Email it with a meeting reminder and print it for distribution at the meeting.
- Agree on standard meeting rules. To prevent a free-for-all, your team probably has an agreed-upon set of meeting rules. If not, identify them in your pre-meeting discussions.
- Handle logistics ahead of time. Reserve the space and collect supplies, such as flip charts and sticky notes. If the meeting is online, set up your GoToMeeting or WebEx session. (Familiarize yourself with these online meeting tools if you’re new to them.)
At the meeting
- After introductions, review the purpose and goals of the meeting, the meeting rules and the agenda.
- Confirm the time allotted for the meeting at its start. Keep an eye on the clock as you progress through the agenda.
- Discuss the issue. Share ideas for achieving the goal or solving the problem. Review what is known and what questions need to be answered.
- Develop possible approaches. Manage the conversation to keep it on track.
- Decide on a course of action. Who does what, by when? Make sure everyone understands action items.
After the meeting
- Follow up. Distribute the meeting record and action items to meeting members and stakeholders.
- Speak to members about their assignments, and confirm their plans and deadlines.
- Share any new information and progress updates with meeting members and stakeholders.
- Close out your meeting with a statement of the goals your team achieved and any items that still need resolution, perhaps at another meeting.
Once you get in the habit of following this approach, you’ll achieve more effective, focused and even shorter meetings. People like that.
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Important Legal Disclosures and Information
Matthew May, “How To Hold A Lean Meeting,” American Express OPEN Forum, https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/how-to-hold-a-lean-meeting-1/
Thomas Stratton, “6 Ways to Lay the Groundwork for More Effective Meetings,” The Lean Post, Lean Enterprise Institute, http://www.lean.org/LeanPost/Posting.cfm?LeanPostId=466
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