Meetings. Love them or hate them, they are an integral part of any business. Whether you need to make sure your team is all on the same page of a project; plan for future projects; or communicate updates and changes within the company, gathering everyone in the same space for a designated length of time to discuss a specific topic without outside distractions saves time and helps you and your team avoid mistakes and miscommunications.
Meetings have become such a large part of many companies, however, that they may be taking up too much time day to day. Pausing to take a close look at the meetings you have on deck with your team and evaluate their effectiveness will help you decide whether meetings are successful and productive for your team, or if they are a waste of time and resources that could be better used elsewhere.
Let’s take a look at what potential types of meetings you could be hosting, the necessary components of a meeting agenda and how you can adequately prepare yourself and your team for a successful meeting.
3 Necessary Ingredients for a Great Meeting:
- TYPE OF MEETING. Decide, before calling the meeting, or drafting the agenda, what type it is:
- Planning Meeting: Planning out a project or event requires that participants show up with checklists and tools. The meeting is successful when the predetermined outcome is achieved. This is often a longer meeting than the status meetings that follow. Allow for some brainstorming. Come out of the meeting with a solid list of “next steps.”
- Status Meeting: This type of meeting, often set as a weekly department meeting, will involve conversation about progress on a project. Be sure to have a firm agenda and a clock for these meetings. Checking in on progress of a project or department begins with action items from previous meetings and ends with a summary of action items everyone has that came from this meeting.
- Educational Meeting: The agenda for this type of meeting will lay out the points to be covered and what participants will learn by attending.
- Morale / Team Building Meeting: Sometimes there are fun occasions to celebrate as a group, perhaps the completion of a project needs to be demonstrated with champions rewarded or a farewell or welcome aboard gathering… there are any number of reasons to have a meeting just to celebrate and recognize others and it’s important to create them. They don’t just happen.
- HR Related Meetings. Reviews, probation or termination meetings have preparation, agendas, outcomes, and action items as well. Running the desired outcomes by senior partners when necessary are important elements in the planning stages of some of these types of meetings.
- Coaching Meetings. A mutual agenda must be set and agreed upon upfront for these types of meetings, whether coaching a team member or a client.
- Client Meetings. We can’t stress enough that these meetings need to be the same each time. Anyone wanting additional recommendations for structuring your client meetings for maximum productivity, just email us and ask for additional information.
- AGENDA. Create one before the meeting starts. Even if it’s a basic list of items to discuss, make sure the meeting has an outline that can be followed to make sure you get the most out of your time.
- The person calling the meeting may want to route the agenda ahead of time for input from other participants.
- Share the agenda before the meeting.
- Outline in the agenda what the desired outcome is.
- Determine at this stage who should be in the meeting. Be choosey. Sometimes too many people in a meeting slows down the process. Who is *necessary*?
- Determine the time you want to devote to the meeting and make it as efficient as possible. It’s also not a bad idea to start meetings at an odd time (“We’ll start promptly at 1:15 and go until 2pm”).
- Components of the Agenda
- Who’s running the meeting?
- What is everyone else’s role?
- What’s the objective of the meeting?
- Upfront Agreement on amount of time and objectives for the meeting.
- Introduce the meeting. This may be a review of past action items, it may be a one-liner reminder of what the situation is or it may be more involved so everyone begins in the same place.
- Outline of the topic(s) to be covered.
- Summarize the action items.
- Set a follow up meeting or method of reporting on action items.
- BE PREPARED. Information leading up to the meeting needs to prepare the participants for:
- What they need to bring or prepare as far as data, results, challenges, slides, printed materials.
- The full time commitment for the meeting.
- The desired outcome of the meeting.
- NOTES. Everyone needs to take their own notes but there should be a format for taking notes for the group and those notes should reflect assignments, deadlines, any action to be taken, who is the responsible champion, and then shared with the group (If no notes are being taken, is it a productive meeting? If nothing is worth writing down, what kind of meeting is it?).
I encourage you to use this information to take a closer look at your calendars and the meetings you have scheduled for the next several days. What types of meetings is your calendar full of? Who is included in those meetings, and is every one of those people truly necessary? Do your meeting participants know what to expect from these meetings and what they should bring with them to the meetings to save time and make the most of the meeting?
Taking a look now at what’s ahead for you may save you from wasting one of your most valuable assets: your time.
Chief Operating Officer
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128