While agendas differ widely from meeting to meeting, the primary reasons why we need to break from our work to gather together in a conference room includes:
- To impart information and gather input
- To exchange suggestions, opinions and ideas
- To discus and resolve problems
- To make decisions
- To create plans
Despite the fact they can often become the source of great frustration, meeting can be a very important and successful part of any business. However, if whoever is leading a meeting fails to make everyone in attendance feel involved, meetings can become disruptions that only serve to lower team moral.
To make the most of your next meeting, you need to take the time to put thought into what you want accomplished, who needs to attend, what the itinerary should feature, where you should host the meeting and when’s the best time to schedule the meeting for all involved.
Once you have settled on these basics, you then need to spend time considering how the meeting will be chaired. If you are the person running the meeting, make sure you early if possible, but definitely on time. Great everyone in attendance and make sure everyone feels comfortable and is ready to proceed without any distractions.
Use your opening comments to set the tone for the meeting, quickly remind everyone in attendance of the purpose for the meeting, and then go over the agenda. Highlight each topic on the agenda and give a brief overview of what you hope to achieve. For example, say the first topic on the agenda needs a decision made in order to advance the project. Make sure to layout in advance your expectations for a decision being made prior to moving on to the next agenda item.
While the meeting is in progress, it’s important to pay attention to item structure. For example, a step-by-step approach to problem solving encourages team members to evaluate and develop alternative solutions. Without any structure in place, a meeting can devolve into a free for all with the loudest voice dominating the conversation; idea generation becomes stagnated; and agenda items get put off until a future meeting.
As the meeting leader, your job is to guide the discussion and occasionally summarize what’s been discussed so everyone in attendance remains on the same page. To help the discussion along, consider the following steps:
- Identify any problems that arise and how they occurred
- Ask for everyone’s input
- Pull together everyone’s opinions and ideas to create alternative ideas and tactics
- Evaluate all suggested alternatives
- Plan any next steps and identify who’s responsible for advancing the agenda
- Review all progress made during the meeting
By taking these basics steps, you can provide your meeting with the focus it needs to be considered a success.