Con­duct­ing pro­duc­tive meet­ings

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Guide - - JOBFUNDAS - Gauri Ch­habra To call or not to call Set an agenda Stick to time Make some­thing hap­pen Bring ev­ery­one on the same page Pre­pare meet­ing notes

Of all the snags in pro­duc­tiv­ity, meet­ings are of­ten con­sid­ered one of the great­est. How­ever, para­dox­i­cally, ef­fec­tive meet­ings can have a pos­i­tive im­pact on your bot­tom line.

Are your meet­ings pro­duc­tive? Are you able to smoothly steal the show? Do you feel tongue tied when asked to ad­dress the group in a meet­ing? Dur­ing a meet­ing, do you fo­cus on the agenda at hand or do you con­cen­trate more on break­ing a foam cup into bits? Are you al­ways at ten­ter­hooks be­fore a meet­ing? If yes, fol­low the tips be­low: Be­fore you call a meet­ing, first must de­cide whether it is nec­es­sary. Re­mem­ber a meet­ing is not al­ways the most ef­fec­tive way. Other op­tions like send­ing a memo or an email may be use­ful. It is your re­spon­si­bil­ity as meet­ing solic­i­tor to de­ter­mine the need for call­ing a meet­ing and who should at­tend. In gen­eral, it is best to in­vite as few par­tic­i­pants as pos­si­ble. As a solic­i­tor you must re­view the or­gan­i­sa­tion's cal­en­dar, re­serve the meet­ing room and as­sign a meet­ing fa­cil­i­ta­tor to be in charge of the agenda.

Come to the meet­ings on time and if you are go­ing to be ab­sent, in­form oth­ers be­fore­hand and send a stand-in who can make at least some de­ci­sions in your name.

Set the ob­jec­tive

Well be­gun, they say, is half done. Be­fore call­ing a meet­ing ask your­self the fol­low­ing: Do you want a decision? Do you want to gen­er­ate ideas?

Are you get­ting sta­tus re­ports?

Are you com­mu­ni­cat­ing some­thing? Are you mak­ing plans? Any of these, and a myr­iad of oth­ers, is an ex­am­ple of a meet­ing ob­jec­tive. Be­fore you do any meet­ing plan­ning, you need to fo­cus on your ob­jec­tive. To help you de­ter­mine what your meet­ing ob­jec­tive is, com­plete this sen­tence: At the close of the meet­ing, I want the groupto…

Start­ing with your meet­ing ob­jec­tive, ev­ery­thing that hap­pens in the meet­ing it­self should fur­ther that ob­jec­tive. If it doesn't, it's su­per­flu­ous and should not be in­cluded. To en­sure you cover only what needs to be cov­ered and you stick to rel­e­vant ac­tiv­i­ties, you need to cre­ate an agenda. The agenda is what you will re­fer to in or­der to keep the meet­ing run­ning on tar­get and on time.

To pre­pare an agenda, con­sider fac­tors like pri­or­i­ties, re­sults, par­tic­i­pants, se­quence, date and time, and place. With an idea of what needs to be cov­ered and for how long, you can look at the in­for­ma­tion that should be pre­pared be­fore­hand. What do the par­tic­i­pants need to know in or­der to make the most of the meet­ing time?

If it's a meet­ing to solve a prob­lem, ask the par­tic­i­pants to come pre­pared with a vi­able so­lu­tion. If you are dis­cussing an on­go­ing project, have each par­tic­i­pant sum­marise his or her progress to date and cir­cu­late the re­ports amongst mem­bers.

As­sign­ing a par­tic­u­lar topic of dis­cus­sion to var­i­ous peo­ple is an­other great way to in­crease in­volve­ment and in­ter­est. On the agenda, in­di­cate who will lead the dis­cus­sion or pre­sen­ta­tion of each item. Use your agenda as your time guides. When you no­tice that time is run­ning out for a par­tic­u­lar item, con­sider hur­ry­ing the dis­cus­sion, push­ing to a decision, de­fer­ring dis­cus­sion un­til an­other time, or as­sign­ing it for dis­cus­sion by a sub­com­mit­tee.

An im­por­tant as­pect of run­ning ef­fec­tive meet­ings is in­sist­ing that ev­ery­one re­spects the time al­lot­ted. Start the meet­ing on time, do not spend time re­cap­ping for late­com­ers, and, when you can, fin­ish on time. What­ever can be done out­side the meet­ing time, should be. This in­cludes cir­cu­lat­ing re­ports for peo­ple to read be­fore­hand, and as­sign­ing smaller group meet­ings to dis­cuss is­sues rel­e­vant to only cer­tain peo­ple. As pro­duc­tiv­ity has been some­what of a main fo­cus, nat­u­rally we are go­ing to wrap up the meet­ing talk­ing about just that- pro­duc­tiv­ity. You cer­tainly don't want it to all be a waste of time, so be sure that some­thing gets ac­com­plished in the meet­ing. You have all come to­gether for a spe­cific pur­pose, and if you are go­ing to claim vic­tory over the dis­ap­point­ing, un­pro­duc­tive meet­ing gods, then you are go­ing to have to make mea­sur­able ef­forts to­wards sat­is­fy­ing or achiev­ing said pur­pose. So above all else, make sure that some sort of decision gets made. Make sure that you bring or­der to chaos and bring ev­ery­one on the same page about ev­ery­thing that has been pre­sented and dis­cussed. As al­ways, clar­ity is ev­ery­body's friend here, so take care to not let things end in any sort of vague ar­eas. Do a quick sum­mary of the meet­ing out loud for the sake of ev­ery­one at­tend­ing, so that once again all points of in­ter­est are ad­dressed and all de­ci­sions can be re­it­er­ated. Make sure that ev­ery­one knows where the ex­pec­ta­tions are at this point as you move for­ward to keep the project on point and pro­gress­ing smoothly. Af­ter the meet­ing is over, take some time to de­brief, and de­ter­mine what went well and what could have been done bet­ter. Eval­u­ate the meet­ing's ef­fec­tive­ness based on how well you met the ob­jec­tive. This will help you con­tinue to im­prove your process of run­ning ef­fec­tive meet­ings. You may even want to get the par­tici- pants' feed­back as well. De­pend­ing on the time frame, this de­brief­ing can be done within the meet­ing it­self or af­ter­ward. Fi­nally, pre­pare the meet­ing notes to be for­warded to all par­tic­i­pants and other stake­hold­ers. It is a record of what was ac­com­plished and who is re­spon­si­ble for what as the team moves for­ward. This is a very cru­cial part of ef­fec­tive meet­ings that of­ten gets over­looked. You need a writ­ten record of what tran­spired, along with a list of ac­tions points and own­ers of those ac­tions.

Fol­low­ing the above tips will re­move all snags from them and make them what ini­tially they are sup­posed to fo­cus and es­ca­late…


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