Meetings are often met with groans and sighs when we see that meeting invite come into our inbox. Most of us feel this way because a lot of times, meetings are not run effectively or efficiently. This is a follow up to a post from last year about how to run effective meetings.
Clear Agenda and Preparation Instructions
Meetings without agendas are very difficult to prepare for. More often than not agendas are not sent ahead of time and attendees are left to prepare based on the title of the meeting. Often the title of the meeting can be enough insight for attendees to do the requisite preparation however having a clear and concise agenda will absolutely help attendees prepare. As an added bonus, meeting organizers can throw in preparation instructions (ex. “read the attached document and come prepared with feedback”) to really ensure that attendees understand what is expected of them at the meeting. By clearly stating the agenda and giving your attendees an opportunity to adequately prepare, you’re taking the first step in setting your meeting up for success.
Avoid Agenda Deviation
Nothing can derail a meeting quite like an off-page discussion about something irrelevant to the agenda of the meeting. Knowing your attendees and their conversational tendencies is a big help here in order to mentally prepare for who may potentially distract from the meeting agenda. Even without this knowledge, a good facilitator will cut off conversations that are not relevant (notice I did not use the word “important”) to the meeting. Side conversations should be parking lot items and discussed at the conclusion of the agenda items or as a separate meeting. This can be challenging depending on who needs to be cut off (i.e. telling a CIO to park the conversation they are having can be a challenge) however it’s important that you as a facilitator ensure that the agenda items are covered in the time allotted for the meeting.
Clear and Concise Meeting Notes
By having clear meeting notes distributed to all attendees, you are ensuring that the conversations that took place are captured accurately and can be easily and quickly recalled by all via the meeting notes. I’ve seen very effective meetings lose their value when meeting notes are not distributed and the decisions made and discussions had at the meeting are somewhat warped depending on the perception of the attendees (or for those who weren’t in attendance and have been given the information second-hand). Meeting notes do not need to be a novel, nor do they need to be ‘prettied-up’ – they need to accurately reflect the discussion points, capture any decisions and point out any action items that were discussed at the meeting.
Meetings are costly and time-consuming however when run effectively, they yield great value to your project. Running an effective meeting need not be difficult but it takes preparation, practice and discipline. With these three tips in your tool belt, you’re another step closer to being a great meeting facilitator.