As entrepreneurs and business owners, you probably experience your fair share of meetings during the course of a working week; however, many of these meetings will end up being a complete waste of time – and you know what they say: Time is money!
Let’s at least help you ensure that the meetings you organise and run with your teams are as productive as possible.
So what’s the definition of a meeting? For the sake of this blog post, we will use the following definition:
“A meeting can be defined as a gathering of three or more people sharing common objectives, where communication is the primary means of achieving those objectives”.
In order to make your meetings effective, the objectives of the meeting must be achieved in the minimum time and to the satisfaction of the participants: this is no easy task.
There are actually two types of meeting: Information meetings – which are used to advise, update, sell or present – and decision making meetings, where you set goals, solve problems and collect ideas. Information meetings are probably the easier of the two as you’ll be relying on your presentation skills to get the most out of them. Decision making meetings are more difficult to conduct; it is these that we will be focusing on in the 7 stages outlined below.
So here goes, 7 steps to an effective meeting…
1) Decide on your overall objectives for the meeting – What do you want to achieve from the meeting? Just make sure the objectives you set are measurable, achievable and realistic. For example, you may want to define a policy or procedure for dealing with customer complaints.
2) Identify the decisions that will need to be made in order to achieve the objectives you’ve set for the meeting. Expanding on the example above, you would need to review existing procedures for complaints handling, agree different complaint categories, agree a training method for teaching the new procedures… you get the idea.
3) Consider who should attend – I recommend you use the “Two Thirds Rule” i.e. each person invited to the meeting must have information relevant to a decision on 2 of 3 of the items on the meeting agenda. This helps to keep attendance to those who are actually necessary and useful to the meeting; it can also help reduce the length of the meeting. Consider the following when selecting meeting participants:
- Knowledge of the subject
- Commitment to solving the problem
- Time to participate
- Open mindedness
- Diversity to viewpoint
If you invite someone to the meeting who feels they should not be there, all they will do is disrupt the meeting causing it to lose its’ direction. As a result, you may fail to reach a decision and the meeting will have been pointless.
4) Decide when the meeting should take place – You will need to consider the availability of those attending and you will also have to allow them time to prepare.
5) Decide where the meeting is going to take place – Is the venue available? Is it easily accessible by all attendees? You’ll also want to avoid all interruptions and disturbances.
6) Inform all involved – The participants will need to know the following:
- Date, time and venue
- Items to be dealt with in order of priority
- What preparation participants need to make
- Scheduled breaks (if you’re planning a day long meeting)
- Meeting finishing time
Make sure you inform anyone else that needs to know – secretaries, team members etc. You want to avoid all interruptions.
7) Check the environment of the venue – It’s important that you and other participants will be comfortable and seated in positions that will aid and encourage participation. If you are going to use an overhead projector, make sure it works properly. Also ensure that the room seating, lighting and temperature are all conducive to a productive meeting.
Follow these simple key steps and you’ll be ready for a successful and productive meeting. Do you have any other good tips for planning and effective meeting? Please feel free to include them in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Office Now