Most people believe that there are too many meetings in business. Meetings to discuss meetings, meeting to update progress since yesterday’s meeting or a meeting in order to prove to the boss that you’re doing your job. Some meetings are essential, most aren’t, but knowing how to run a meeting efficiently, and getting results from your discussions, will save you time and enable a more productive working environment.
Have a Purpose and make sure everyone attending knows what it is
Send out an agenda prior to the meeting and allow enough time for people to prepare for the meeting. Explain the goal of the meeting and what is expected from everyone that is invited. The benefits of the meeting to those attending should be obvious (otherwise the meeting may not be required). However, if you feel the need to point out the advantages of attending, then detail this on the invite, along with the agenda.
If everyone is fully informed prior to the meeting then there is no excuse for not fully preparing.
Make sure only those required are invited
Only invite colleagues that are required to meet the goals of the meeting. Don’t invite the boos just to show what a good employee you are – that’s just wasting their time. You should be clear on who is attending and why. Making sure that you have the right people involved will encourage a productive, efficient meeting.
Let everyone know that you will be in charge of the meeting. As such you are responsible for keeping to timetables, ensuring that appropriate minutes are taken and that everyone is aware of the actions that they are responsible for after the meeting. You will need to be balanced, impartial and fair, as well as being able to assert authority and keep the discussions on topic and on track. If everyone is well informed regarding the meeting, it will make administering it a more pleasant experience.
Ensure that discussions remain on topic. If they begin to stray down an irrelevant path, then politely ask that people get back on track. Depending upon the subject of the meeting, it may be that suggestions and alternatives are a requirement, and so your discretion should be used.
Ensure that actions are agreed, and that those given the actions are clear about what they have to do. A follow up communication should be sent to reiterate the responsibilities and timescales. These actions can then either be discussed with the individual owner, or, if essential, provide the agenda for a more focused follow up meeting.