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"To get something done a meeting should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are absent." ~author unknown
One of the complaints I hear most often is about the number of meetings people attend during any given week. It isn't only the quantity, but the duration and ineffectiveness that seem to cause problems. Conducting effective meetings is part of practicing effective time management and something we cover during my workshop so I thought a recap of some meeting guidelines would be helpful:
Before the meeting… Create and distribute an agenda. If others are involved, get their contributions by asking them to provide 3 things: the topic, the time needed to discuss it and the purpose. Create a level of expectation that without this information, the item won't be placed on the Agenda. Identify specific actions and outcomes for Agenda inclusion because this will determine who should be attend. Try to keep the number of participants between 4 and 7. State when the meeting will begin and end and try to honor those times.
During the meeting… Stay on topic. Assigning a willing facilitator can help keep the group not only remain focused on the topic. This person can also remind participants when comments are 'repetitive' instead of 'additive'. In fact, you might want to follow Roberts Rules of Order and ask attendees to speak no more than twice per topic, limiting their talk time to two minutes each time--assigning a timekeeper would also be a helpful step to take. Use a whiteboard for key points and be prepared to handle disruptive subgroup discussions—you want the meeting to remain focused and on time! At the end of the meeting assign action items and deadlines—it helps staff remain attentive and reinforces accountability. "Do you know your next step?" is a great question to ask in order to give attendees the opportunity to request and receive clarification on action items.
After the meeting… Have the "Action" follow-up sheet available by the end of the day. This can show the date of the meeting, tasks, responsible party, deadline date and a follow-up date. Assign a meeting coordinator to follow-through with the commitments made and noted on this "Action" sheet.
The objective is to gain a reputation for having fewer, more effective and efficient meetings. Attendees will welcome the opportunity to share information and participate when they feel they have been heard and they know their time hasn't been wasted.
Cynthia Kyriazis is a Professional Organizer, trainer, consultant, speaker, coach and author with over 20 years management experience in multi-unit corporations. She is President of Organize it, Inc., an organizational consulting firm serving Fortune 500 clients since 1995. Cynthia has worked with over 150 companies and hundreds of professionals to help improve performance in the areas of time, information, space and electronic file management.