When you hear the word “meeting” do you groan?
Many people do, and they shouldn’t. Meetings are intended to allow a group to do something that couldn’t be done alone. Meetings allow for communicating, administering and deciding.
The problem is often in the structure and length of the meeting. I attend many meetings. The most successful ones have five key elements in common:
1) They have an agenda
2) They start on time and end on time
3) They stay on point
4) They have action items for follow-up with identified due dates and responsible parties.
Agenda An agenda provides purpose and structure to the meeting. Distributing the agenda in advance of the meeting enables participants to prepare. For the meeting organizer, it provides focus and direction.
Time Meetings should start on time. It’s disrespectful to those who do arrive on time. If you are known for starting your meetings on time (and not repeating what you already said to the late arrivals), people will show up on time. Why should you start on time? So you can end on time. People have busy schedules. It’s important to respect that they have other commitments. I serve on several boards. I’ve met some great people and enjoy catching up with them. The time to do that, though, is before or after the meeting. Not during.
Stay on point It’s easy for meetings to derail if the discussion goes off point. Use the agenda to stay on track. Summarize key points and ask for agreement. Acknowledge constructive contributions.
Action items Most meetings are intended to bring about a decision. If it does, the next step is to determine a due date and who is responsible for implementing the decision or next step. Too often, that piece gets left undone and the next thing you know, you’re having another meeting to figure out.
Bonus Here is a bonus tip for running a successful meeting: Be sure to thank members for their participation and contributions.