It is an undeniable fact that most of us enjoy the sound of our own voice. This pleasure seems to grow when we are in meetings or discussing subjects with colleagues. Unfortunately, this normally leads to never-ending meetings. Worse yet, it may lead to meetings where decisions are not taken. To help you succeed, here are some tips to help you carry out a terrific meeting.
1. Send an agenda beforehand
You want all persons attending the meeting to know what will be discussed. The best way to do this is to send a draft agenda beforehand and invite people to add other points for discussion. This will also help you determine who should be present at the meeting.
2. K.I.S.S. or you’ll lose them
Do not try and cram too much into the agenda. Normally each meeting should focus on 1 or 2 main points and then 3 or 4 minor related points. You could even hold a meeting to discuss just 1 very important point. It is human nature to lose concentration and patience after a certain point, so do not expect miracles from your colleagues. If need be, set a separate meeting to discuss other points.
3. Give an introduction and details on the topics
Once the agenda is finalised, send an email with information about the topics being discussed. A terrific meeting is one that does not last a minute longer than it has to. Doing this will ensure that everyone is up to speed on what is happening before the meeting starts. If they have any questions about the email, invite them to ask you prior to the start of the meeting.
4. Be prepared
If you are leading the meeting, prepare for it. Go to the location of the meeting before the others and place any tools, such as visual aids in an organised fashion so that you can refer to them quickly. There is no easier way to lose the attention of your colleagues by rummaging through your documents to find that important list or graph.
5. Stay in control
Remember what I mentioned at the start of this post? Everyone loves the sound of their voice. If you do not control the meeting, a colleague will start talking and if he/she gets a conversation going, it could last for hours. If you see that colleagues are talking on and on or are drifting into new topics, guide them back to the agenda.
6. Time in, time out
Remember that a meeting is a cost to the business. You have a group of people who are falling behind on their daily duties, sitting in a room discussing ideas. It can go on for hours, but you don’t want that. Set a realistic time frame for the discussion and decision of each point and stick to it, no matter what. Even if the team finds it difficult for the first meeting or two, eventually they will get the hang of how it’s done.
7. Location, location, location
There is no law that a terrific meeting needs to happen in a boardroom. In fact, it can happen anywhere, even outdoors. The secret is avoiding distractions as much as possible. If there will be food during the meeting, that’s ok, but beware of any alcohol. Consider the time of the meeting too; try to avoid early afternoon meetings when people would be more tired right after lunch.
8. Focus on your goal.
What is the point of your meeting? Do you need a decision to be taken? Do you need to delegate certain tasks to different departments? Whatever your goal, make sure that by the end of the meeting you have achieved it. It helps if you remind your colleagues of the goal at the start of the meeting. You cannot have a terrific meeting if you don’t reach your goal by the end of it.
9. Send out a message
It is customary that a minute taker or recording is present at the meeting. Alternatively, each colleague would take down their own notes. Whichever practice you choose, make sure that after the end of the meeting an email or other message format is sent out to all participants, detailing the outcome of the meeting. This will avoid any possible misunderstandings about what was decided in the meeting.