Friday, August 28, 2015

5 Ways to Run a Successful Meeting

Stuck in a tedious and over-long meeting a couple of weeks ago, while other attendees were checking their smartphones, I was thinking about how we all want to have more effective meetings but never seem to succeed in improving them.

You could fill a whole library shelf with books on the subject but that may be part of the problem: There are too many "rules" and not enough buy-in!

So, here's a simple 5-point basic plan I jotted on my note pad during that meeting that might give you some food for thought about how to streamline your meetings and the outcome.

• If decisions don’t need to be made, you possibly don’t need a meeting. Use email or social media for gathering opinions and reporting back.
• If decisions do need to be made, only invite the people who really need to be there for the decision-making. Others with a vested interest can be updated in a note.
• Have a timed agenda with no more than three key issues, each with a stated objective.
• Start each meeting by getting buy-in around the table to stick to the agenda timings, and agreement on joint ownership of that responsibility. This is by far the most important aspect.
• Sideline issues that arise that aren't relevant to those decisions. Circulate a note of them for future consideration.

What do you think? These aren’t only ideas off the top of my head but also the result of a lot of experience attending poorly-organized meetings. Of course, there are many other important supporting issues like having the right location with good ventilation, switching off cell-phones, and taking breaks -- anything to improve the atmosphere.

In my humble opinion, meetings that last more than an hour are a problem. A good trick you can try to speed up things is a stand-up meeting. No chairs is a great way of concentrating the mind!

You need a particularly fierce discipline if you're running a brainstorming meeting because you're trying to encourage open-minds and creative thinking. You need a plan that sets not only a time limit but also a clear objective. In the agenda, define the purpose of the session and the structure of the meeting. For example:

• Purpose -- to identify new products for development
• Outcome -- the five best ideas and how to move them forward.

You might find this blog by business author Scott Berkun helpful:

Speaking of meetings, is it time for us to get together to discuss and review any issues relating to your business insurance protection? We can "meet": over the phone at any time and I'm always happy to see you face-to-face. Just give me a call.


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