Meetings have become one of the workplace’s abominations. When you mention the word meeting people shudder because they feel that it will either be unproductive, unorganized, or boring. On average, we spend 80% of our time in meetings and over half of them are time wasters.
Sometimes meetings have meetings, the unnecessary side chatter that is going on when meetings are being conducted. People come in with displeasure and quickly lose interest. This is a 3-part article series that will provide tips on how to host productive meetings. The article series includes:
Part I: Before the Meeting (The Preparation)
Part II: During the Meeting (Chairing)
Part III: After the Meeting (Post-meeting tasks)
If you want to change attitudes about meetings, get more participation, and be productive, here are 7 preparation tips to do prior to the meeting day:
1. Determine availability to properly schedule the meeting. If it is a small group of 5-7 attendees, it would be feasible to request their availability to ensure good attendance. Meeting Wizard, a free program, can send proposed dates and collect responses. Then you can schedule the meeting based on the consensus.
2. Distribute the agenda one week prior to the meeting. Sending the agenda at least one week prior to the meeting will alert attendees of the topics for discussion. They will be able to prepare talking points for topics pertaining to them. You want attendees prepared with their eyes wide open with what to expect. Second, there may be additions or revisions to the agenda.
3. Request questions, comments, and feedback. Having prepared comments and questions will make the meeting run smoothly. You will know what to expect and be able to better direct the meeting; in other words, you will be prepared and preparation is vital to a successful meeting. Also, if people can’t attend, their comments can be addressed and noted in the minutes.
4. Set a deadline for responses. Even though the consensus has agreed upon a meeting date, schedules are subject to change. You also want to confirm the number attendees if you are ordering refreshments.
5. Meet with key players prior to the meeting. Asking key participants who will be addressing topics in the meeting to confirm information and required documents is a good preparation method.
6. Follow-up on action items from the previous meeting(s). Ever been in a meeting and when asked if action items were complete, there is an awkward silence, shoulder’s shrug, and you get the wide eye look? As if to say, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Believe it or not, people forget, procrastinate, and drop the ball. They “zone out” during the meeting and don’t read the minutes. Sending a polite email following up on tasks will give you a heads up as to whether items are complete or need to be tabled until the next meeting. You will also know if these items should be included on the agenda for discussion; thus eliminating a lot of wasted time.
7. Send a reminder the day before the meeting. The meeting notice has been sent, refreshments have been ordered, and materials have been prepared, but schedules do change. Sending a reminder the day before gives a gentle alert that the meeting is tomorrow. For those who wait until the last minute, they will be alerted to gather their documents or review information to prepare for the meeting’s discussions.
The workplace is filled with time wasters and meetings are at the top of the list. The good news is that if proper preparation is done, the meeting can be productive.