I get many meeting requests on a daily basis, and if I attended them all, I’d have no time to do my real work. I always appreciate it when the meeting organiser has planned the meeting in advance and knows what they want to achieve from the meeting.
There have been many books written on the topic by researchers with great tips on how to conduct more effective meetings, some of which I am going to share with you below.
Before the meeting:
- Determine whether or not a meeting is actually necessary. Could the matter be resolved in a more time efficient manner such as a conference call or over email?
- Determine the purpose of the meeting. The most common reasons for holding a meeting are:
- Share information
- Collect information such as input or ideas
- Plan something
- Make a decision
- Persuade or sell
- Solve a problem
- Evaluate a status
- Determine who needs to attend the meeting. You should invite the minimum number of participants needed to achieve the purpose of the meeting.
- Distribute a meeting agenda to those invited prior to the meeting.
The meeting agenda should include:
- The purpose of the meeting
- The topics to be covered with the most important agenda items at the start
- The time allocated for each topic
- Who will present the topic
- Prepare visual aid or handouts. Prepare some materials the present the topic in a graphical way, something that will help the participants focus on the topic and avoid rambling digressions.
- Make meeting room arrangements.
The meeting room arrangements should include:
- Booking an appropriate meeting room
- Making sure the room is large enough for all the participants
- Making sure there are enough chairs for all the participants
- Making sure that the required equipment, such as a projector, will be available for the meeting
- Confirming any catering requirements for food and drinks. This is especially important if you are going to be running a breakfast of lunch meeting.
During the meeting:
- Start the meeting on time. Don’t wait for late comers. If you wait for them once, they will tend to always be late for future meetings because they know you will wait.
- Designate a person to note the meeting minutes. Someone should be assigned to take meeting notes ahead of time.
The meeting notes should be:
- Clear and concise
- Cover all the decisions made, actions, assignments and estimated completion dates for actions during the meeting.
- Review the purpose of the meeting and the agenda. Be concise and don’t give a lengthy discourse.
- Facilitate the meeting, don’t dominate it. The facilitator should not lead all discussions, they should get the persons assigned to the topics to lead their topics.
A good facilitator will:
- Keep the meeting moving within the scheduled time
- Encourage participation from all
- Limit the discussion by participants who have a tendency to talk too much
- Control interruptions and side conversations
- Clarify points that should be made
- Summarise topics and transition to the next
- Summarise the meeting at the end. This is to ensure that all participants have a clear understanding of all decisions and action items. The meeting leader should verbalise these items to reduce the chance of any misunderstandings.
- Do not exceed the scheduled meeting time. Participants have other meetings to attend to. If all topics are not covered in the designated time, it is better to schedule a follow up meeting.
- Evaluate the meeting process. Participants should discuss any ways in which the meetings can be conducted more efficiently and effectively.
After the meeting:
- Publish the meeting notes within 24 hours
- The meeting notes should:
- Be concise and kept to one page if possible
- Should not include a detailed narrative
- Should confirm any decisions that were made
- List any action items, who is responsible for the actions, an estimated completion date and the deliverables expected
- A list of persons who attended and who was absent
- Should be distributed to all persons who were invited
Please note that these are not my ideas. This list above is compiled from a number of books that I have read.