Meetings have become mundane must-do tasks in many organizations, we loathe scheduling them, attending them and the lack of decisions made by them. Many of them are meetings that simply just lead up to more meetings. Meetings serve a purpose are supposed to be productive. Your time, as well as your coworkers, should never be wasted on tasks that do not benefit anyone or the organization. Somehow, meetings have become ill-defined and need to get back to the efficient product it was meant to be. Here’s how we change this;
A. Research the issue(s)
What is the point of the meeting?
- Start thinking of yourself as an internal consultant who solves all issues for your Department/Division. What most consultants recognize is that the stated issue is not actually the “real problem” at all. Ask the right questions to get a true understanding of what the issues are. A meeting that tackles the appropriate task will have more potential to be a productive one.
Is a meeting needed?
- Sometimes a simple one-on-one will suffice to get the wanted outcome. Think before you have employees take time out of their schedule for this task. The default answer to problems that arise should not be to set a meeting.
B. Research your audience
- This is a good way to manage potential roadblocks. Each decision maker has a way of communicating, and need to be engaged in their specific way for a favorable outcome. Communication is not “one size fits all.” Over time you should learn what makes employees tick and more importantly what does not!
- Do not set a meeting if the Decision Maker(s) will not be available. This one speaks for itself if the decision maker cannot attend there will have to be a follow-up meeting.
- Research who is the Decision Maker, titles can be pretty but take time to research who exhibits and holds the power within your organization. The time spent doing this on the front end will alleviate a lot of headaches.
- As well as the Decision Makers only invite individuals that NEED to be there. The smaller the group the better. A bigger group means more noise, more opinions and more to manage.
- Ask parties (not decision makers) for input requested if they cannot attend. Set timelines for information to be submitted prior to the meeting to alleviate potential hiccups.
- Do not shoot yourself in the foot by not rehearsing for the meeting. Write down potential questions and have answers ready with supporting documentation. This will build your reputation and confidence for future meetings. Practice what you are going to say and how as an attorney prepares their opening and closing arguments.
- Public speaking is a huge skill and one that should not be go undeveloped. A confident speaker can set the tone for a successful meeting in more than one way. Begin the meeting by introducing yourself (and major stakeholders) state the purpose of the meetings and set rules for the meeting. Such as phones on vibrate, no questions until the end, you must set the standard.
- Find a way to work on your public speaking, you will not regret it. Your local Toastmasters group is one way to accomplish this.
- Agendas are a must; I repeat agendas are a must. This simple piece of paper may seem cumbersome but you will not regret it. Each meeting has an individual that is a time waster and sidebar conversationalist that is there to get the meeting off schedule. An easy and respectful way to get the group back on task is to refer to the agenda and help everyone to move along accordingly. Once attendees know a meeting not only has a set agenda and set time for each subject they can possibly be more tuned in and they know their time is worth it.
Meetings are not tools to waste time, let’s get back to making decisions and being productive. A meeting is like any other product that will take more time in preparation than the actual presentation. Let’s start to develop successful trends. Set the standard and do not look back!