The ability to organize and lead an effective meeting is an essential skill in order to be seen as an influential leader and strong manager. It is an especially good way to be noticed by all of your work colleagues at any stage in your career. Please consider the following thoughts to be seen as an expert in communication and time management.
Start By Ensuring That A Meeting Is Necessary
Clearly, a well-run meeting is an effective tool in any organization to facilitate achieving a variety of objectives, but they are often over used, poorly run and hurt, rather than help the team. If your organization and team have clear goals, with empowered individuals, you do not need many meetings. Before you call a meeting, or accept a meeting, consider if there is an alternative like an e-mail blast or an internal on-line site where updates can be posted, questions asked, etc.
Carefully Select The Attendees
A good rule of thumb to use when selecting the attendees is to ask what decisions, feedback or sharing of information needs to be made in the meeting that requires the group being together vs. a simple e-mail exchange. Your goal is to have key influencers and decision makers and not spectators, unless the meeting’s goal is a broad audience “team or town hall” forum. When it comes to picking the “influencers”, pick the subject matter experts, regardless of age or tenure.
Publish An Agenda in Advance
A clear agenda of topics and goals, along with a timeline of how the meeting will flow needs to be distributed well in advance of the meeting in order for everyone to come prepared. Be sensitive to the fact that you may need to clear the agenda with your supervisor prior to publishing it to the broader group.
Be Mindful Of How, When And Where You Set The Meeting
If you are in a senior position, do not drop in last minute meetings unless it’s truly an emergency. Set as far in advance as possible, being very mindful of time zone differences for those on audio or video connections. For recurring meetings like staff meetings, quarterly budget reviews, etc., set them up using the recurring meeting function in your calendar.
Adopt Team Meeting Guidelines In Advance
If an influential leader on the team can help bring consensus on “housekeeping rules” it will make every meeting more effective. Some examples are: Starting and finishing on time. One-hour max meetings unless really needed. Mobile devices not used in meeting. No sidebar discussions. The key is to set the rules, as a group, in advance, so the moderator can run the meeting.
Stick To The Agenda
You’ve done all the right prep work and now it’s time to run the meeting. Stick to the agenda of topics and timeframes allotted. If topics appear to be taking longer than intended, suggest to the group that certain items go into a “parking lot” for future review. Do not get behind on the agenda timing unless the group agrees to drop items from the end, or stay longer. Depending on your seniority, do your best to enforce the meeting guidelines from point 5.
Leave The Last Five Minutes To Recap
As the moderator, close the meeting with a quick summary and next steps. Publish meeting notes within 24 hours if required to all attendees.
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