Preparing for a meeting is a skill. It is not as easy as setting up a conference call, inviting people and hoping for the best. I was recently on a very important call where there was no formal agenda, it was an open ended conversation and it was utter chaos with no significant outcomes (other than the inspiration for this posting).
There are several key aspects to having a meeting…
- Consider the agenda – what are you trying to accomplish (specific outcomes)
- Who is critical to be at the meeting? Are these people to identify key aspects so a recommendation can be made? Make sure you have the right level of participation but don’t overdo it with people because then you won’t get anywhere as everyone will want to add their say
- Prepare documents for the meeting. I find that having something visual for people to react to is much better than open-ended conversations
- Facilitation of the meeting is critical to ensure that the agenda gets followed and the outcomes are obtained, This includes ensuring participation, staying on topic and asking questions to understand perspectives
- It is ok to defer topics for other meetings if they are disruptive you the agenda
- If you are walking someone through a document a real-time utility (such as WebEx or Netmeeting) may be useful
- At the end of the meeting recap any key points and takeaways
- After the meeting document the key points and action items and send them out to ensure clarity of agreement
- Then follow up shortly after to confirm the actions have been completed
It is a little bit of work but spending the time planning and facilitating meetings will ensure that outcomes get met. Otherwise you can expect to have a follow up meeting which will essentially be a repeat of the initial meeting.