In your business or career, you will probably attend and organize tons of meetings. If you are the organizer, it is in your discretion to make the meeting as productive as possible; that is, it is in your power not to waste everybody’s time.
Here are some tips that will help you organize productive and effective meetings.
A MEETING IS SCHEDULED FOR A REASON: If the information you want to pass along in the meeting can be successfully communicated through the phone or email, do not schedule one.
INVITE ALL NECESSARY PARTICIPANTS: Seems obvious; however, this rule is oftentimes forgotten. Don’t arrange a meeting for twenty three people only to invite twenty people.
INFORM ALL PARTICIPANTS EARLY ENOUGH: Even if you are the boss, except it is an emergency, don’t inform participants of a meeting only a day before; respect people’s time. For meetings with members within your organization, schedule at least two days before; for members outside your organization, schedule at least two days before.
DISTRIBUTE MEETING AGENDA: When sending a memo for a meeting, include the agenda (an agenda is a list of the topics to be discussed during the meeting), the time allotted for the meeting, and encourage participants to be well prepared for the meeting.
BE EARLY: Even if you are the boss, be early. Be on your seat or a seat next room five minutes before time. Your discipline will make others disciplined.
DON’T DIGRESS; DO NOT ALLOW IT: Don’t digress. Also, disallow any speaker from digressing. The moment a speaker start digressing, politely cut such speaker short.
NEVER HOLD A MEETING WITHOUT A SECRETARY: Who will record? Secretaries are essential to meetings. They are also responsible for writing action points (action points are what each participants are to do before a specific date) and sending them to all participants.
KEEP PLEASANTRIES VERY SHORT: If you have to ask every participant how his/her spouse is, you might as well turn the meeting room into a chit chat club.
DO NOT OVER TALK: Remember that the more you talk, the less people listen, so, if you can get your point across in thirty seconds, do not use three minutes.
TOUCH ALL POINTS IN THE AGENDA: Don’t reserve any point on the agenda for the next meeting. To achieve this, be time conscious. If an alien point (a point outside the agenda) comes up, schedule the point for the next meeting or deal with it only after all points on the agenda has been settled.
KEEP CALM: Some meetings can be intense. As the coordinator, you should not lose control even if participants are. If a meeting reaches a stalemate (a point where opposing parties are unwilling to bend to one another’s term—even a bit), close the meeting and reschedule if the stalemate cannot be broken. Perhaps you might have to see some participants privately.
LISTEN: Don’t do all the talking. Let others speak to and listen to what they say—take notes if you need to.
SEND A MEMO THAT DETAILS THE RULES OF THE BUSINESS MEETING TO PARTICIPANTS PRIOR TO THE MEETING: If participants have been warned beforehand that troublemakers might have to be sent out of the meeting room, participants will most likely attend the meeting well behaved. Other rules should also be highlighted.
FOLLOW UP: Follow up to ensure execution of action points after any meeting.