Death by meeting part IV (and how you and the meeting can be resuscitated)
Meetings. Sometimes I think I the conference room is my office. How often do you feel that way, or have you been in more meetings than the workweek has hours?
Seriously, many meetings just keep on running on and on with little to nothing show for at the end of it in terms of getting tangible results. When folks get an even fuzzier picture at the end of the meeting than what they went in with, you will have some very unhappy campers to deal with sooner or later.
It does not need to be this way. Preparation is the key word in making a difference. Have you ever painted anything like a room or piece of furniture? If so, you may appreciate when I say that +75% of the total work going into this is the prep work leading up to it. The actual painting job takes a fraction of time. This is no different with meeting prep work. Properly executed this can save you many a nerves and of course time, money and frustration. Please also see the meeting planner free for you to use in the download area.
- Sit on a mental rock and ponder why you need to have a meeting in the first place. If you can avoid it, do not have it. Have personal conversations instead and make good use of your capability walking the four corners of your business.
- A good reason to have a meeting is when you get more than 3 people e-mailing each other discussing a point and consensus does not emerge.
- Have a meeting immediately if this banter goes on more than two business days.
- Have it immediately if there is more than just 1 department or stake holder involved.
- Clarify what kind of a communication you want to have. Is it a communication for interpretation? Communication for clarity? Communication for action? Communication for exploration?
- Identify the goal of the meeting. What is the desired outcome?
- Define location, attendees, time scheduled to start and stop. Make sure to book your rooms well in advance and all the props that you need.
- Who should attend? Err on the minimalistic side. More than five people at a time make for really slow meetings. Pay attention who of your people are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Make sure everyone is being considered.
- When you start the meeting make sure to start on time and end on time. Neat trick starting on time is to make the last person to arrive at the meeting the scribe. You will have some hilarious antics going on when you do this, but it has proven extremely effective.
- Define the roles of facilitator, scribe, and time keeper. Time keeper, no time to tread lightly on this; make certain that the time limits are kept.
- Plan out the topics that will be discussed. Upon starting the meetings give every team member a chance adding topics, or of course eliminating any.
- Sometimes it may be necessary having side bar meetings leading up the meeting that you are planning. When the topic is too vague, scope creep set in, or there are too many people in the main meeting, prevent major headaches this way.
- Scribe: Keep copious notes. For the technical savvy folks amongst you, use a version of the Meeting Planner on the Download page in your MS One Note folder and share it with the team members.
- At the end of the meeting go over the captured action items. Make absolutely, positively certain to doing this. Identify the responsible person to deliver results and by when.
- End on time. If you have a pattern of going over all the time, have a few meetings standing up. Trust me it helps keeping a fast pace and not to start rambling through the meeting agenda. If you must go over one hour time then plan on a 90 max meeting time before walking around, and get a bit of fresh air.
Nothing is worse than having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting. If need be, speak with you supervisor and take a break at no more than 90 minutes max meeting time.