Meetings are a fact of life in modern business, and most people will agree that they can be highly useful, informative and effective ways of progressing projects and business. However, for every excellent meeting, there is one that feels like a time-wasting exercise, and which fails to achieve its intended objectives.
So, make sure your meetings have the right impact with our handy guide.
Get the basics right
There is nothing worse than inviting external guests to a formal meeting and then finding that your room is double booked. Avoid this embarrassment by investing in a proper meeting room booking program to automate the process, provide records and assign costs and contacts internally. Most of these systems also provide for add-on organisation; for example if you need certain kit to be provided within the meeting room by the co-ordination or facilities team. You might want a clip board, extra seats, a wireless access code and catering for example. Modern systems integrate the process and streamline it – with the internal customer providing a PO for the invoice, and the right people receiving work instructions for the booking.
Treat your guests well
Equally, if you are bringing in external guests, make sure they will be welcomed at reception, that they are known about and have visitors passes ready, and ensure they will receive refreshments. Remember the small details – book a parking space for guests as needed and have a good tea or coffee ready in a proper cup! Small details are often remembered and appreciated.
Invite the right people
An effective meeting will have the right people in attendance. Think carefully about this – don’t invite anyone who really doesn’t need to be there. Add certain attendees as optional if they are. Allow people to dip in and out if they really don’t need to be present for the full duration. Respect time and remember that too many people in a room will invariably be ineffective.
Make sure you have an agenda
If you are taking people’s time from their day, then respect this by having an agenda in place. Circulate the proposed list of items beforehand and gain input. Document each item and assign a time to it. During the meeting, have a watch on hand and a skilled facilitator to run through each item, close it off and assign an action. Keep detailed minutes and circulate these afterwards.
The importance of the facilitator
A good meeting facilitator will ensure that the agenda is adhered to, that timings are met, that everyone gets their chance to input, and that the conversation remains on track and to a purpose, rather than going off on a tangent. He or she will also take notes or direct someone else to do it, and generally ensure that the meeting objectives are both reiterated at the start, and then clarified at the conclusion of the meeting, with clear actions and follow up points. He or she will usually then circulate minutes and actions to all attendees after the meeting, with clear delivery dates and information about any follow up meeting as necessary. Adherence to good process ensures that meetings run effectively and achieve their purpose – avoiding waste and keeping the business on track and focused!