Having a great meeting might not describe your experience of meetings. However, believe it or not, it is possible to have a good meeting and to feel good after! The challenge with meetings is that everyone has a different view of what good meetings look like; a creative one, a quick one, an organised one, one with lots of actions or one with very few actions. The question is, how can we make meetings great for as many people as possible despite having different priorities, perspectives, working or meeting styles?
Simple. Here’s how to have great meetings in 5 steps…
1. MAKE THE MEETING CLEAR
Before you start the meeting send out an agenda, invite the right people, send out information in advance that you want attendees to read. Don’t stick everything on a calendar invite as people will not read it or if you do, remind them that these are the expectations. When you start the meeting, communicate the meeting objectives, why people are there and plan for the discussion.
2. PUT PEOPLE FIRST
Be exclusive and inclusive. Being exclusive is about involving the essential people in the meeting to ensure it achieves its objectives. Being inclusive is about being conscious of everyone in the meeting. Everyone is going to have different preferences, styles and different amounts of time they need to think. During those meetings, adapt to these different styles, be appreciative and be respectful.
3. TIME AND PLACE
Often, we might not have lots of choice as to where we are going to hold our meeting, however, location really does matter. Therefore, it’s important to think about the type of meeting. Does it make sense to hold it in the meeting room, outside, corner of the open plan office or in a different place such as coffee shop? Once you’ve decided on the appropriate place, think about the duration, as people generally cannot focus for longer than 30 minutes. Remember to check in with them, have regular breaks, food and drink to stay hydrated and energised.
4. TAKE ACTION
Ensure you go away with as few actions as possible and that all actions have got their owner and a deadline. The agreed actions need to be circulated after the meeting and it is important that you have someone who is responsible for ensuring they happen. This doesn’t mean that the action owners aren’t accountable, however, there needs to be someone who is able to check in with people regularly along the way to ensure they are on track and that they have sufficient support and resources needed.
5. DON’T BACK-TO-BACK
Don’t go back to back, i.e. from one meeting to another. You need preparation time as well as a break. If you don’t, then you will be struggling to pay attention during the next meeting, as you will be thinking about your next or last meeting. Make sure you have the same amount of time as the meeting duration was, to decompress and prepare in between. Try your absolute best to make the break no less than 30 minutes.