Meetings are often seen as a chore by those invited to them. Too often they are directionless, unproductive, and seemingly take longer than necessary. But they don’t have to be this way. If you regularly have to organise and manage meetings at your place of work, or you’ve just moved into a role in which this will be expected of you, then you might find this article useful. We’re going to go through a few of the main tips that will ensure that meetings you manage are effective, and that everyone leaves feeling as though something has been accomplished. There’s no secret to good meetings, and none of the tips are difficult – it’s mainly about good planning.
Choose attendees carefully
Deciding who to send meeting invitations to can be one of those things that falls under ‘office politics’, which is why it’s always best to be very open about who you’re inviting and why. Sit down and figure out who needs to be in the meeting, and send an invitation with a brief explanation of why they should be there and what they should contribute. You can always suggest that attendees recommend other people join if they believe they have something to contribute, or if they need to know what’s going on.
Have an agenda
This does of course lead us on to creating an agenda for your meetings. This point will be much easier if you know what the meeting should be about, and what you want to achieve. Roughly break down the allotted time into sections in which you go through all of the points that need to be covered to ensure that the meeting is productive. Where possible and appropriate, note down who you’d like to speak on what topics and when. This leads us onto the next point.
It’s important for productivity to ensure that those you’ve brought into the meeting have the chance to give their input. After all, there’s no point them being there if they aren’t able to contribute. In most meetings, everyone will naturally be able to do so, but sometimes it might be helpful to encourage those who aren’t as assertive. Similarly, it will help future meetings that you run if attendees know that you’re going to allow everyone to have their say. Having an agenda will really help here.
One of the major complaints about meetings is that they never seem to take place when they’re supposed to. People often turn up late, meaning the meeting takes longer than allocated, and peoples’ diaries are inconvenienced. Firstly, you need to make absolutely sure that you’re on time for any meetings that you organise. It doesn’t look good to turn up late. Secondly, you need to be strict with timings. If you book a meeting to finish at a certain time, then make sure that it does. People will be much more likely to want to attend future meetings if they know that yours won’t drag on. Thirdly, being firm with those that do turn up late will discourage them from doing so in the future.
If you’ve been taking notes throughout the meeting, which is always a good idea, then email these out to participants afterwards. If possible, everyone should leave with at least one action that they should take after the meeting. This could be something as small as sending an email, or it could be a longer term project. Either way, it will help people feel that the meeting created goals, or helped people work towards one.
Much of the above will seem initially like considerable work for a meeting, but once you’ve made it part of your work routine, you’ll quickly become efficient at planning out an agenda and getting the right people involved. If you need any further help with meetings, then it may be a good idea to take formal training on the topic. Virtual College offers a range of online management courses, which can be seen here.