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Meeting Tips

MEETING TIPS

Keeping good notes and action items are important to conducting effective meetings.  To ensure your meeting gets off on the right foot, some pre-work is needed. 

Be sure to understand the organization norms and culture towards meetings.  In some organizations it is common to start meetings late.  It may also be common to not end meetings on time.  If you are working in a culture like this, you will need to take some initiative to determine how much change you can influence around improving the use of time during meetings. 

Spend some time talking to your internal network.  If you are still in the fact finding phase of your “90 day plan”, this is a good time to test the water for an opportunity to improve the productivity of meetings.  You may discover your “quick win”.

There are a few simple guidelines to follow to dramatically improve the productivity of meetings:

1.  Send all attendees an electronic calendar reminder.  If attendees do not respond to your meeting reminder, call them as a follow up.  If the “non-responsive” attendee is a required attendee, it is best to make every effort you can to encourage his or her attendance.

2.  Provide an agenda prior to the start of the meeting.  It is suggested you provide the agenda as an attachment to the calendar entry.  Providing the agenda prior to the meeting gives meeting attendees time to prepare themselves for the meeting.

3.  Use the SIMPLE FORM to keep your meeting on track and to record relevant notes, decisions and action items.

4.   Start and end the meeting on time.  Be sure meeting participants are aware of the role of the “TIMEKEEPER”.  If your meeting room has a clock, use it for time keeping, otherwise the TIMEKEEPER will need to refer to his or her personal clock and provide periodic updates on time status.  A rule of thumb is to update the group at 15 minute intervals.

5.  Begin the meeting with an overview of roles and meeting objectives.  Some organizations have meeting guidelines posted in their meeting rooms.  I have seen them referred to as “Rules of Engagement.”  Review to the guidelines prior to the start of every meeting.  The guidelines may include review of NOTETAKER and TIMEKEEPER, review of the meeting guidelines, and a review of the AGENDA and priorities for the meeting.

Meeting guidelines define the expectations for all meeting attendees and may include any of the following:  Open, honest and effective communication.  Focus on facts and data pursuing measurable results.  Hold one another accountable considering the business first.  Have clarity on decisions with clear owners and due dates.  Confirm alignment on decisions and verify the communication plan.

6.  During the meeting, keep to the agenda topics.  If topics wander off track, record them on a parking lot and at the end of the meeting review if they should be researched prior to the next meeting or added as an agenda item for the next meeting.  There will be times when you will have to tactfully end discussions that are going nowhere or are unproductive.

7.  As the meeting facilitator / organizer, be sure to encourage group discussions and feedback to ensure all points of view are heard.  Your goal is to leave the meeting with alignment on the decisions and action items.  It is difficult to truly have alignment if there are attendees dominating the discussions.  Including everyone in the discussion improves the quality of the decisions made and raises engagement of the attendees.

8.  End the meeting with a review of the SIMPLE FORM discussion points, issues identified and action items.  Take this time to ensure agreement on the what, who and when of the action items.  Confirm you have the correct people on your attendees list and agree on a time and place for the next meeting.

You will be well on your way to leading effective meetings.  Attendees will feel that the time they have spent is worth their while and your success rate in meeting objectives will continue to improve.  Best Wishes!

There are other materials available to assist you in choosing the correct attendees for your meetings, as well as tools and techniques that may be used to manage group interactions.  Included here are basic tips for effective meetings.

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