We have all been to at least one poorly planned meeting. There is nothing worse than the feeling of ‘time better spent elsewhere’ slipping away. So the next time you arrange a meeting, be the initiator of change and make your meeting super effective.
Here is a surefire template for how you can plan a fruitful and productive meeting that will leave everyone feeling positive, hopeful and respected.
- Create an agenda – Creating an agenda is the easy part; now you have to be sure to stick to it! Do not let time wasters or poorly prepared presenters monopolise the session. Which leads us to the next point….
- Email this agenda to all participants 24 hours in advance – Everyone should know in advance exactly what will happen and when.
- Stay on topic – Every aspect of the meeting should have a time slot, and no one topic should be allowed to go on for longer. Anyone who tries to steer the conversation away from the topic at hand should be gently interrupted and the scheduled topic should be resumed.
- Arrive at least 5 minutes early (participant) – Are you a participant? Arrive 5 minutes early. Are you the organiser? You need to be there at least 20 minutes before the start time in order to ensure everything is in order (projector, coffee service, lighting, adequate chairs etc.).
- Start on time – This is one of the most important points – I cannot stress this enough. Starting (and ending) on time sends a powerful message. It says to the attendees that you respect their time and will manage the meeting effectively.
- No side conversations – This should go without saying, but even in the most professional atmospheres, side chatter still occurs. Nip this in the bud.
- Bring a pen and paper – If you are an attendee, ensure that you bring a pen and paper. If you are the organiser, try to have extras on hand for those who have not brought their own.
- Disagree (but don’t be disagreeable) – Remember to keep things respectful and friendly. Even if you or your attendees do not agree with the points brought up, you need to keep things civil and amicable.
- Take minutes – Elect someone to keep brief and accurate minutes of the meeting. Even if you think your memory is beyond reproach, you will be surprised at how much keeping minutes will help create an accurate record of what was said.
- Send out an email summary within 24 hours – Ideally the meeting will end with actionable plans. Include these and the summarised minutes in an email that you send within 24 hours.