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  • Bring order to meetings: 7 easy steps

    Perusing the internet recently, there appears to be a lot of energy around improving meetings. Atomic Object is holding stand-up meetings to help speed them along – which I heartily endorse. While participating in conversations, the topic of meetings frequently comes up and not in a favorable light. So what can be done about it? Here are 7 easy steps that can be used immediately.

    [1] The leader of the meeting must have a clear and specific stated purpose for the meeting which should be shared ahead of time with all attendees. If that does not exist, there is no sense in holding the meeting.

    [2] There should be an agenda which is published ahead of time. Each agenda item should note who will lead the discussion, what the end result of the discussion will be and approximately how long the agenda item will take. The length of the meeting should be determined by the length of each agenda item. If you need 40 minutes, plan for that. Not 30 minutes or 60 minutes, which seem to be standard default duration for meetings.

    [3] Pre-work may be required on the part of the attendees. Ensure they are aware of it and have the proper time to prepare.

    [4] Use an action register. Meetings should not be just information sharing. There are many other ways to do that. The entire point of holding a meeting should be for people to work together and accomplish something. However, all work cannot be done at once. There will be action items and the action register allows proper follow-up. An action register contains: the action item, the person responsible for the action, the date assigned and the due date.

    [5] Create meeting ground-rules everyone can agree on. This brings order to meetings and opens the door for useful participant feedback during the meeting. Having the team create their own set of ground-rules builds camaraderie and trust. Some of my favorite ground-rules are:
    • I will only make statements that add value and stick to the purpose at hand.
    • I will behave openly with others.
    • I will focus on a one-conversation concept.
    • I will look for “how we can” rather than “why we can’t.”
    • I will honor my commitments.
    • I will offer alternative proposals to those things with which I disagree. But when I leave the room I will support the majority.

    [6] The chairperson must be a leader during the meeting. They are ultimately responsible for keeping the session on track. They need to know when to speed things along and when to give more time to a topic than was originally allocated. They need to ensure participants are full participants, not texting, playing Angry Birds or otherwise multi-tasking.

    [7] Appoint a note-taker and publish the notes right after the meeting. Meeting notes should be a summary of decisions and actions decided upon in the meeting. It is extremely helpful in the case of weekly team meetings. It allows people that could not attend to quickly get up to speed. The note-taker can be a rotating responsibility.

    In summary, meetings are a necessary part of the business world. However, they must be crisp, concise and to the point. If you do not like how meetings are being run, use this list to make some suggestions. I think it will be appreciated by all attendees.

    Published on March 5, 2012 · Filed under: Coaching, Leadership, Process Improvement; Tagged as: , ,
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