Make Meetings Successful Every Time
Work days are often filled with many meetings and at times they even overlap! Unless somebody has figured out how to make an exact copy of themselves, they can’t possibly be in multiple places at once.
Keep reading for tips on choosing which meetings you should be attending and how to make meetings successful every time. This will save the company lots of time and money!
It is a common belief that meetings are a waste of time and resources because they often go off topic quickly and next thing an hour has gone by and the initial reason for the meeting has gone by the wayside.
Other times the content covered in the meeting may have been great but then nothing was done with that information after the meeting.
The following 5 steps will ensure that your time isn’t wasted and that the right actions are taken during and after the meeting, ultimately leading to long term success for the company.
Step 1: Create a schedule of meetings
a) Meetings can typically be scheduled right through the company e-mail system, where everybody being asked to attend can respond whether they will be attending or not. It also keeps the meetings up to date with any changes that may take place prior to the meeting.
b) Reviewing the meeting calendar will give you a complete picture of how many meetings are scheduled for the week; if there are any that overlap or if there are meetings that will cover similar content, they could potentially be combined or removed entirely.
c) Before accepting meetings that overlap, do your due diligence to determine which meeting you would be able to provide the most information in. Don’t ever feel that you must attend every meeting that you are invited to.
Step 2: Determine if the Meeting is Necessary
Review your calendar and determine if there are any meetings that you do not need to attend. Think about your role in each of the meetings and answer the following questions:
a) Do you have anything significant to add to the meeting?
b) Do you think you could learn anything while there?
c) Do you think the scheduled time for the meeting is the right length? Meetings are often scheduled for an hour by default but if a quick conversation could solve the issue, then an hour long meeting is not really necessary and is likely a waste of time.
d) Is there another topic that is more urgent and should be discussed instead?
Answering these questions before responding to the invite will help you determine how you should respond to the invite. It is good practice to decline with a reason than to accept the invite only to decline it later.
Step 3: Gather Information Prior to the Meeting
Now that you have decided which meetings are necessary for you to attend, you should be doing some work prior to the meeting to prepare for the meeting. If possible, planning a week ahead would lead to the best results.
a) The individual who is conducting the meeting should have provided some points on what the meeting will cover so that everyone can prepare. If this was not done, contact the person who is running the meeting and request that information. It is hard to prepare for a meeting when you have no idea what will be discussed!
b) When you have the meeting points, make sure that you work through each point to see where you can provide insight. If you don’t have all of the answers, then do some research or ask questions of somebody who may have more experience and could provide some insight.
c) Make thorough notes of each of your research points that you plan to share at the meeting. You want to make sure that you are able to get your point across quickly and that another meeting can be avoided.
Step 4: Share Your Ideas
Bring your notes to the meeting and make sure that you share your ideas!
a) The person hosting the meeting should have prepared an outline for the points that will be discussed and how much time has been allotted for each topic.
b) Your ideas are just as important as everybody else’s, so make sure you are able to share your ideas within that allotted time! Too often we are unsure how are ideas are going to be interpreted and we don’t say everything that we are thinking. Nothing will change without your input.
c) When other people are talking, write down some quick notes that you can review later. If you have questions that you want to ask after the meeting, write down those questions and the name of the person that you need to speak with.
d) Make sure that you write down any issues that you need to look into after the meeting.
e) Determine when the next meeting should take place to revisit all of the discussion points. Sometimes another meeting is not necessary.
f) If you are the person who scheduled the meeting, make sure that it stays on topic. Everybody should have a chance to share their ideas. However, if a meeting is scheduled for one hour, it should not go past that. Handle one main issue at a time. Another meeting or discussion can be planned for any other issues that came up during the meeting.
Step 5: Review Notes After the Meeting
After the meeting:
a) Look over your notes to ensure you understand everything that was written down. Ask questions to the people in attendance if you need clarification on any points.
b) Make sure you know what YOUR action items are!
c) Work on completing those tasks prior to the next meeting. If there will not another meeting, make sure that you are able to complete everything effectively. You don’t want to unintentionally let the team down.
Taking effective notes prior to and during the meeting are crucial to the success of meetings. You can use a regular notebook to complete your notes. However, I would recommend having several pages for one day and potentially more if you attend a lot of meetings.
I have created a Meeting Notes layout, which can be viewed here (Meeting Notes).
If you have multiple meetings each day, then change to Meeting # 2, # 3, etc…
In the prep notes area, jot down any research that you have done or additional ideas that you came up with prior to the meeting.
The meeting notes are where you would write down what you learned during the meeting.
You should leave yourself plenty of space to write notes down for the prep notes, meeting notes and actions to complete after the meeting.
As you can see, meetings don’t have to take up so much of your day and they don’t have to cause stress. As long as everybody understands what is expected of them and each person has a chance to say their piece, the meetings will generally run smoothly.
Proper planning, research and communication will make each meeting more enjoyable and may lead to a huge success story for the company!
I hope you found these tips helpful! Do you feel that meetings are taking up too much of your day? You are definitely not alone!