Meetings can be either extremely effective or a big waste of time. The difference in the outcome depends on the planning that takes place beforehand.
1. Establish a Meeting Objective and Stick to it
Effective meetings serve a useful purpose. This is because an objective is outlined and all conversation is centered around the desired outcome. However, all too often, people call a meeting to discuss something without really delineating what outcome is desired at the conclusion of the meeting time period.
· What criteria will make up a desired outcome?
· Do you want ideas, action items, problem solving—understand what you want to accomplish so you can ask the meeting group for the correct input.
· Do you want status reports? At what time interval?
· Do you have all of the information necessary to communicate your meeting topic and what you want to accomplish at the conclusion of the meeting?
2. Use Your Time Wisely
You owe it to yourself and your team to streamline the meeting as much as possible. Time wasted in a meeting is time wasted for everybody attending. To ensure you cover only what needs to be covered and you stick to relevant activities, you need to create an agenda – and designate someone at the meeting as a time keeper to keep everyone focused and on track.
· Priorities – what absolutely must be covered?
· Results – what do need to accomplish at the meeting?
· Sequence – in what order will you cover the topics?
· Timing – how much time will spend on each topic?
3. Thank Participants and Lay Out Next Steps
Be sure to solicit feedback from meeting attendees on assigned tasks and next steps.
· Get a time table on deliverables from each attendee assigned a task.
· Set calendar reminders for both yourself and each specific attendee for follow ups.
· Send a thank you note to every attendee for their time in coming to the meeting and their input. People will be more inclined to attend future meetings if they feel that their time and input are appreciated.