Meeting is a powerful tool to share ideas and information and keep the channel of communication open. Well-organized and managed meetings are a success while badly run meetings are a mere waste of time and money.
“Meetings get a bad rap, and deservedly so - most are disorganized and distracted. But they can be a critical tool for getting your team on the same page.” - Justin Rosenstein
Effective meetings leave you energized and motivated to strive hard in order to accomplish your goals. When meetings are managed well, they take up minimum amount of time, achieve objectives, and create an impression that something meaningful has been accomplished.
Meeting Management Tips
The word “meeting” has earned a bad reputation. Nobody wants to be part of a meeting where everyone is wondering whether they are at the wrong place. A significantly large number of people consider meetings as mere waste of time. However, meetings can be productive if organized efficiently. Here are a few tips:
1. Have a clear objective
A meeting without an agenda or objective is doomed to fail. What do you seek to accomplish? Do you have a specific and defined purpose for a meeting? If so, you should go ahead and send invitations. On the other hand, vague intentions only lead to meetings that are just wastage of time. Ask yourself a myriad of questions:
· Do you intend to get status reports?
· Do you want to reach a decision?
· Do you want to communicate something?
· Are you looking for ideas?
· Who needs to attend the meeting?
· How much time do you intend to spend on each topic?
· What would be the order of the topics in terms of their priority?
· When and where will the meeting be held?
Evaluate everything and then make a conscious decision about what the next step should be.
2. Be prepared
Make sure you are prepared for the meeting and distribute the agenda in advance so that everyone else has access to the background information and materials. This will ensure everyone comes prepared. In the absence of agenda or information, a meeting would end up in failure, since there is nothing to be accomplished. In that case, there is no need for a meeting in the first place.
3. Stick to schedule
You have an agenda and schedule for the meeting. Stick to it and ensure everything goes on as planned. Nothing derails a meeting more than one participant taking leverage to talk longer than the allotted time. Of course, you would not want one person to monopolize the conversation. As soon as you notice someone trying to take time as hostage, let them know that everyone else must be given an opportunity to share their input. When you are public about it, others will stick to the ground rules.
4. Be punctual
Start and end the meeting as per the schedule. People appreciate it when you value their time. This would earn you a reputation of being punctual and disciplined. People would be more willing to attend your meetings, rather than making excuses not to participate. Longer meetings that drag on for hours become boring and lose their agenda. Watch the clock and let no meeting last longer than sixty minutes. Make the time count. If someone arrives late and makes excuses, refuse to start over again for them if they’ve missed important information. This will send the right signals across that they need to be more punctual.
5. Encourage open discussions
Everyone has something important to contribute. It’s important that every participant gets an opportunity to share their views. Meetings aren’t for leaders to take up 50 percent of the time; rather, a successful meeting is one wherein everyone gets is able to speak up, and no single person tries to dominate and hog the discussion.
6. Keep discussion on track
One of the prime reasons why meetings fail is that discussions waiver from the agenda. Keep the discussion on track. As a meeting organizer, it’s your responsibility to keep bringing people back to the topic when they try to stray or wander from the discussion. By doing so, you can hold more effective meetings.
At the end of discussion on each item, make it a point to summarize the key points. Confirm with other participants that it’s a fair summary. Upon their approval, move on to the next point on the table. This will ensure everyone understands each point and remains attentive.
8. Say no to distractions
Technology can prove to be a big distraction during meetings, especially iPhones, smartphones, iPads, and BlackBerries. Banning everyone from bringing their smartphones and mobile devices to the meeting would mean there are no distractions. So everyone can focus on the meeting, instead of responding to their Facebook messages, surfing the web, emailing, or playing on the iPad.
9. Press for closure
It’s important to discuss a point thoroughly before moving on to the next. It is equally crucial to press for closure on all that has been decided before jumping on to the next item. Often meetings end in failure due to the inability of organizers and participants to keep it on track and press for closure.
10. Follow up
Keep a record of what has been discussed in the meeting. It’s quite common for participants to come out of the meeting with different interpretations. To reduce this risk, distribute notes from the meeting or email a memo highlighting all that has been accomplished in the meeting. Documentation of the meeting accomplishments will help ensure everyone is on the same page.
Meeting Management Quotes
1. “Meetings without an agenda are like a restaurant without a menu.” – Susan B. Wilson
2. “Meetings at work present great opportunities to showcase your talent. Do not let them go to waste.” ― Abhishek Ratna
3. "Why do we take notes of meetings that last for hours and call them minutes?" – David Williams
4. “A meeting consists of a group of people who have little to say – until after the meeting.” ― P.K. Shaw
5. “I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” – Oprah Winfrey
6. “The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.” –
7. “Meetings, clearly, can take place anywhere, and wouldn't it be nice to see your coworkers lounging on the grass with their shoes off?” – Tom Hodgkinson
8. “When leaders know how to lead great meetings, there's less time wasted and less frustration. We have more energy to do the work that matters, realize our full potential, and do great things.” – Justin Rosenstein
9. “The aspect of congresses and such meetings generally to which I attach the greatest importance is the discussion. That is why people assemble: to hear different opinions, rather than to pass resolutions.” – Fredrik Bajer
10. “There is one crucial rule that must be followed in all creative meetings. Never speak first. At least at the start, your job is to shut up.” – William Goldman
Meeting Management Tools/Software
1. Meeting Booster: Smartly manage your meetings and documents with Meeting Booster. The professional meeting management tool comes fully integrated with Microsoft Outlook.
2. Cvent: The easy-to-use application provides a comprehensive solution to run successful meetings and accomplish the set goals. Use Cvent to significantly increase attendance and productivity while reducing cost.
3. GoToMeeting: A professional meeting solution, GoToMeeting is a simple, reliable, and effective meeting management tool built for your business.
4. ReadyTalk: This is an easy to use, simple to join, and reliable solution to manage meetings. Run web seminars, conduct conference calls, and meet with confidence with this audio, video, and web conferencing tool.
5. LessMeeting: This application enables you to control your meeting agenda and topics. It is easy to sync with Google Apps, Outlook, and iOS devices. LessMeeting features an array of apps, so you can have meetings even on the go.
6. Skype: The tool enables you to hold virtual meetings at any time and place and invite as many participants as possible. Take collaboration to another level with Skype.
7. PlanningPod: The online meeting management software simplifies how you plan meetings. PlanningPod comes with 26 tools that are easy to use, so you can manage everything with ease.
8. MeetingKing: Make your meetings more productive with MeetingKing. The intuitive software helps you save time on reporting minutes and organize meetings successfully.
9. MeetingSense: The simple-to-use application leverages your existing tools and workflows, helps you easily record notes, and schedule meetings online successfully.
10. NovusAgenda: Save time and money by using NovusAgenda for managing meetings. The well-organized tool makes it easy to create, approve, and track items on your meeting agenda.