Scenario: You’ve been called into a meeting. You grab your notebook and pen to take notes, you try to organize relevant information and review the agenda to ensure you are prepared. The meeting begins and someone asks a question, the leader of this meeting sidesteps the question and goes off on a tangent – thus wasting your time. Nothing on the agenda was discussed. There was very little collaboration for tasks or clear deadlines given. This is a classic example of an unproductive meeting.
There are going to be some meetings that never become productive and it is because simple steps weren’t followed for that meeting to produce the intended results.
The next time you have a meeting follow these few steps:
Does a meeting need to be held?
Make sure that a meeting is appropriate before scheduling one with everyone. I once scheduled a meeting and no one had any idea what the meeting was for or why they were there. Don’t make this mistake! Make sure that there a set and scheduled time for the meeting with a clear understanding of what the meeting is about.
Prepare/Review the agenda
For the meeting to flow effectively, you must stick to the agenda. Are there minutes or notes from the last meeting that had any action items that need to be reviewed of updated? If you are in an administrative role, you may have to prepare the agenda. Make sure that you know exactly what you want to get out of the meeting.
Who exactly needs to be there?
One thing I’ve learned in my time being an administrative assistant is that you do not want to waste anyone’s time. When you schedule a meeting, it is important to get the what, where, when and WHO for the meeting. While preparing for the people who need to be there, also think about where it needs to be held.
Stick to the Agenda!
Often in meetings with a laid-back vibe, it is easy for a person to go on a tangent completely deterring the meeting from its purpose. When this happens, kindly redirect the conversation to the appropriate subject by asking a relevant question or jokingly mention we need to get to the next point. In short, try to make sure that there is minimal small talk or side banter during the meeting.
Encourage Attendees to be Engaged
Meetings usually add a collaborative feel to any project, so try to get everyone involved. Ask them their thoughts or ideas on tasks. Make sure you are direct about tasks that were given and be open to other perspectives so everyone is heard.
Summarize the Meeting
At the end of the meeting, either on your notes or verbally, make sure to quickly go over the points and tasks just assigned. This will give everyone the opportunity to ask any last questions and place everyone on the same page.
Tip: Establish hard deadlines so that any initiative that you have can progress and you can easily measure your group’s success.
If you apply these tips to your next meeting, I’m sure it will be a productive one.