At any company, long and drawn out meetings can be a stressful use of time, and you may ask yourself 'Is this meeting even necessary?" Meetings are the most universal—and sometimes universally despised—part of business life.
However, meetings are necessary in the business world, and with the right tools and approach, your meetings can become engaging, successful and well-received. There are a number of steps that you can take to make this happen.
Step 1: Do I need this meeting?
The employee calling the meeting should have a clear idea about what the meeting's purpose is. According to Tom Ault, Technical Training and a Senior Training Consultant with ERC, employees should ask themselves if a meeting is the most effective means to accomplishing their purpose.
If the answer is yes, time should be spent organizing the meeting so the desired results are met in the most effective way.
That should include:
- Providing an agenda
- Assigning roles
- Agreeing to a Code of Conduct
Step 2: Agenda
Having an agenda is a necessary part of conducting a successful meeting. Ault says it "Ensure that proper thought went into the planning of the meeting and that critical information is communicated to the participants so all can come prepared."
The agenda should be constructed so that the meeting objectives can be accomplished.
Input from meeting participants and items from previous meetings should be considered.
- If the meeting is impromptu, then the agenda should be discussed at the start of the meeting and be displayed on a flip chart or white-board
- Any pre-read material that may be pertinent to the meeting should be sent out with the agenda
Step 3: Assign roles
By identifying roles, it ensures that the responsibility of a critical outcome is assigned to individuals. This way, individuals are accountable for the end result.
Designate individual employees to be a facilitator, recorder and time-keeper.
Some meetings may require the use of an outside facilitator to aid the participants in achieving the meeting objectives. Time-keepers will make sure the meeting is running on time so everything can be covered; and the recorder can jot down any key points and action items made in the meeting.
Step 4: Roles of the leader
Here are some additional guidelines to follow prior to the meeting:
- Prepare and send agenda to participants
- Schedule the meeting location and ensure there will be enough seating and sufficient equipment available
- Be sure to include all of the appropriate people in the meeting invite, and make sure they will attend
And here are guidelines to follow during the meeting:
- Review the agenda with everyone at the meeting
- Be sure to keep the meeting on track and that it's accomplishing the objectives you have set. Look to your time-keeper for help with this
- Ensure that the agenda is followed or changed as appropriate
- Monitor and assure decisions are made appropriately (Individual decisions are made by individuals and group decisions are made by consensus or other appropriate means)
Step 5: Conclusion of the meeting
At the conclusion of the meeting, as the leader, be sure to:
- Summarize any conclusions met at the meeting, action items and any questions that were not addressed
- Evaluate the meeting and ask how the meeting can improve
Code of Conduct
The code of conduct is nothing more than expectations and agreements that will be observed by participants during the meeting. It may be best to post the code of conduct in the meeting room, so there are no questions and the expectations are set for everyone.
Here are some sample Codes of Conduct:
- Be ready to start the meeting on time
- Participate actively during the meeting
- Listen to the ideas of others with an open mind
- Hold a no cell-phone policy during meetings
- Stick to the agenda
- Accept personal responsibility for the success of the meeting
- Treat other participants as equals and with respect
- Always keep in mind the meeting’s objectives
Meetings do not always have to be boring and unproductive. By following these key steps, you will find your meetings to be more productive, less frequent and well-received.