Making Meetings Matter!

Meetings can take up an inordinate amount of time in a lot of people’s working day. How you manage your meetings can make a huge difference to the productivity of your business.

Make meetings matter

When planning meetings how do you decide:

  • Who should attend?
  • When meetings should be scheduled?
  • Why they should happen?
  • What they should achieve?
  • How you measure the return on the investment of you and/or your colleague’s time spent attending meetings?

Scheduling meetings 

The scheduling of meetings is critical to the productivity of the workplace. Decisions and brainstorming meetings are best for morning time slots when participants are refreshed and more focused. Briefing and process meetings are best allocated to afternoon time slots when attendees may not be as alert.

Meeting goals and objectives

You need to ask yourself why you are having the meeting? Clearly defining your goals and objectives for holding a meeting is imperative. This ensures that you make the most of everyone’s time and resource and positions the business to get the best possible outcomes. Always ask yourself …is the meeting necessary?

Meeting attendees

The next question to ask yourself is who needs to attend the meeting?

So often meetings are attended by the masses and resource is wasted unnecessarily.

What is the purpose of the meeting?

Your answer will help determine the outcomes you want to achieve. The answer will also give you a clear indication of who should attend. Ask yourself if some attendees that may have attended before by default really need to attend some or all of the meetings that are planned. You may be able to communicate progress to them without them attending the meeting. This is an option if people are not critical to that part of the meeting process. This is helpful if you may need to include people in future meetings. You do not need to include everybody in every meeting. All stakeholders will them be kept up to speed.

Meeting agendas

Agendas are one of the most important components to achieving a successful meeting. An agenda will keep the meeting on track and allows you to allocate responsibility to each participant ensuring that you have no passengers.

It is very important that the meeting agenda is sent out well in advance to allow participants to prepare properly. A minute-taker is also crucial and a dedicated minute-taker who is succinct, yet thorough and captures the progress and outcomes of the meeting will keep the meeting in check. This will ensure that the minutes are not only read when distributed but are actioned accordingly.

Subsequent meetings should always revisit the prior minutes and agenda to create timelines. This will assist in identifying bottlenecks as well as accomplishments. These should be duly recognized in the meeting environment. This acts as a key performance indicator of your meeting’s efficiency and effectiveness and should be a vigilant and purposeful process.

Meeting actions and outcomes

Every participant of a meeting should have at least one action point when they walk out of a meeting. The ownership of an agenda item can be a very powerful tool to achieve a collaborative outcome when it is allocated as part of a meeting team goal.

For this to work you need to ensure that actions are addressed in a timely manner. This can be done by breaking down the goals into mini-goals that are reportable between meetings. Mini-goals can also be made reliant on the actions of other meeting attendees to encourage collaboration. This will allow the group to achieve the outcomes desired before the group meets again.

Reallocation of actions to other participants when tasks are not completed as required can be a strong deterrent for non-compliant participants. This can encourage them to be proactive to achieve outcomes in a timely manner. If they do not comply they will risk becoming a redundant team member.

Tolerance of disengagement or disinterest of meeting attendees will only delay and/or derail meeting agendas, actions and outcomes. This should  and never be encouraged or supported.

Meeting key performance indicators 

Key performance indicators can be measured in many different ways. They should change in accordance with the meeting objectives and desired outcomes. These key performance indicators may include time, cost, revenue, traffic, analysis, benchmarks or collaboration. Key performance indicators may also include two or more of these together or other benchmarks that are identified as relevant. These should be determined to be appropriate by the meeting organizer.

Meeting location

More than ever before location of a meeting is becoming irrelevant to the success of holding a successful meeting with the right participants. Virtual meetings are so well supported now that the only barriers relating to location is the timing of the meeting rather than the location. Organizers must ensure that time zones are considered carefully when planning meetings. This is to ensure all participants are not only able to attend, but are not impaired by the time of day or night that they will be required. This allows each attendee to be able to contribute proactively with other attendees.

An internal ‘Meeting SWOT Analysis’ is a good tool to implement that will help to determine the frequency and necessity of meetings. If a fraction of the time is taken to plan meetings that most businesses dedicate to actual meeting attendance businesses will achieve a significant improvement in productivity immediately.

The question about meetings you need to ask yourself as a business owner is….

Can my business afford not to?

Want to learn more about getting organised and planning?

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Originally posted 2015-06-14 10:48:02.

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