There’s one simple secret to effective meetings: set an agenda and stick to it. The agenda drives the content and outcomes of the meeting and, where appropriate, should reflect the needs of all attendees so everyone has a buy-in and an interest in the outcomes. Follow these simple steps for planning and running meetings and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve. And, just in case not everyone in your organisation is following these steps to great meetings, I’ve included some key questions you should ask before you accept any meeting invitation…yes, you do have an option and you can say no if joining in the meeting is not the most effective use of your ti collaborative meeting agenda
.Never schedule a meeting without making it clear to your attendees what the purpose, timeframe and outcomes of the meeting will be. Send out a draft agenda to everyone who will be attending. If appropriate, ask for their input to refine, add or delete agenda items. Revise and re-send the final agenda the day before the meeting to everyone planning to attend. This way everyone has notice of the meeting content, the opportunity to put their own issues and interests on the table, and time to prepare.Call the meeting attendees (or your key contact) the day before to confirm the meeting time, location, number of people attending (and their names and titles) and availability of any resources you might need for your presentation.
Find out who the decision makers are – this will help you to direct your attention toward the key players as well as to get a feel for the progress of the meeting based on their input and responses.Before you open your laptop or launch into your presentation, take a few minutes to write up an agenda that everyone can see. This is far more appropriate in creative or free-flowing meeting environments as opposed to formal meetings where last minute additions to the agenda may not be at all welcomed.Use your pre-meeting agenda as a base and give people the opportunity to suggest any last minute topic areas or refinements. Write their responses on a whiteboard or piece of paper taped to a wall, using different coloured pens or initials to indicate which input belongs to which person. This allows you to quickly identify what is important to different individuals – and if you’ve identified the decision makers – what they’re particularly interested in. Some people may be surprised at the opportunity to contribute in this way, so allow time for people to consider their responses.