Meaningful meetings are possible, desirable, and should be the aim of every executive. Many people say meaningful meetings is an oxymoron, and they have a point. Research shows consistently that most meetings waste time and cost significant sums. Some studies show over 75% of meetings waste time.
Setting a Clear Objective
Elements of a Well-Defined Objective
Every meeting should have a well-defined objective. The objective serves as the guiding star, keeping the meeting aligned and focused. Your objective should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Written objectives should be distributed prior to the meeting to set expectations and allow preparation.
The Importance of an Agenda
An agenda acts as the roadmap of the meeting. It outlines what will be discussed, in what order, and allocates time slots for each topic. Participants should be provided with the agenda in advance, enabling them to prepare their contributions and queries. Segregate agenda items into categories like ‘Updates’, ‘Discussion Points’, and ‘Decision Items’ for better clarity.
Selecting the Right Attendees
Hierarchical Inclusion and Exclusion
Invite only those individuals whose presence is vital to the meeting’s objective. This fosters a sense of purpose among attendees and streamlines the meeting’s focus. Hierarchical representation should be balanced to encourage open dialogue while having decision-making authority present.
Establishing Meeting Ground Rules
Setting ground rules such as punctuality, device usage limitations, and speaking protocols can have a profoundly positive effect on meeting productivity. Make sure to reiterate these rules at the start of each meeting and encourage adherence to them.
Facilitation Techniques for Effective Dialogue
A skilled facilitator is instrumental in ensuring a focused and productive dialogue. Techniques such as directing questions, redirecting conversations, and summarising points can be invaluable in maintaining meeting efficiency.
Every participant should be given an opportunity to contribute. Using tactics like round-robin or designated ‘open-floor’ periods can stimulate involvement and elicit fresh perspectives.
Keeping Track of Meeting Minutes
Best Practices for Minute-taking
Accurate minute-taking is crucial for tracking progress, action items, and decisions made during the meeting. A dedicated person should be responsible for capturing essential points, questions raised, and decisions made, which are then circulated post-meeting for confirmation and action.
Conclusion and Follow-Up Measures
A successful meeting culminates in clearly defined next steps. It is imperative to allocate responsibilities for action items, set deadlines, and arrange follow-up meetings if needed.