While some may consider the tips common knowledge, you should ask yourself if you really do employ these tips to all the meetings that you run and attend. If not then you still have room for improvement.
Obtain a Written Agenda Well in Advance
Going into a meeting with a vague intention to discuss something will never be productive. If you aren’t sure about how to put together an agenda then you just need to put together a point form list of everything that should be discussed and ensure that you’ve gathered any material the attendees will need by at least the day before the meeting takes place in the conference room. Here you can use a room booking software.
If you’re asked to attend a meeting without being provided with an agenda then don’t afraid to ask for one so that you can prepare.
Pro Tip: If you’re running a regular meeting such as a weekly meeting then you can create a meeting template to save time. This makes the process of creating an agenda as simple as filling in the blanks.
Look at the List of Attendees
How effective your meeting is can depend heavily on who is a part of the meeting. If a meeting takes place and a person in a key position, such as the manager or executive, isn’t a part of the meeting then nothing of significance can be decided.
Meeting organisers should limit how many people are attending the meeting. Meetings are held to get work done and make important decisions. They should not be used as a way to share information.
Let the Clock Manage the Meeting
Meetings are more effective when you watch the clock or meeting room display. If no one is in charge of managing time then people start to lose focus and become careless. Attending a meeting means that people can’t do anything else so you have to make it worth their time.
If you can start and end the meetings on time (or early) you quickly build up a reputation for being an organised person. If you’re in charge of arranging a larger or more complex meeting then you should bring in a colleague to be the time keeper. If you have trouble letting the clock manage the meeting then take advantage of the “Parking Lot” method we’ll be discussing next.
Manage Off Topic Discussions with “The Parking Lot”
I have to admit I was fairly impressed the first time I saw someone use a parking lot. There are two functions to using this device. The first is that it keeps the meeting on the agenda. The second is that it still acknowledges any important parts attendees make.
Just a word of warning; you should combine The Parking Lot with The Follow Up to make it effective. If not then you could find yourself with a reputation for being someone who just acknowledges others to make themselves look better.
Here are some simple steps for meeting organisers to use the Parking Lot.
- Explain at the beginning of the meeting that you expect attendees will focus on the agenda. Reinforce that doing this means the meeting will be productive and everyone can go home on time.
- Keep the agenda for the meeting in front of you and use it as a guide
- Move through each item on the agenda
- Monitor the discussion and contribute when you need to
If someone brings up a point that isn’t related to the agenda you should thank them for the point but explain that what they mentioned goes beyond the purpose of the meeting. Tell them that you will write the item down in the parking lot and that you will include it in the note for the meeting so that their point can put on the agenda of a later meeting.
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