We all have been through it. We scheduled a meeting. The attendees arrived late. The meeting interrupted by the attendees walking in and out, answering their mobile phone. And worst of all, the meeting got sidetracked and everyone walked out of the meeting, more confused than ever.
I’m sure productive meeting exist. And I’m also pretty sure that you want every meeting, that you chaired, to be productive as well.
Here are 10 questions that you can ask yourself to ensure your meeting, a productive one.
1 ) What’s the specific purpose of the meeting? What do you want everyone who attended your meeting to gain from it?
Is it for:
– sharing information?
– issuing instructions?
– brainstorming for new ideas?
– solving problems?
– evaluating proposals?
– making or implementing decisions?
– addressing grievances or arbitrating?
– promoting team spirit?
– consulting vested interests?
2 ) What kind of meeting it should be?
Considering the following and once you decide on the format, sticks to it.
Frequency—A daily meeting is different from a weekly one, and a weekly meeting from a monthly one. Irregular, ad hoc, quarterly, and annual meetings are different again. On the whole, the frequency of meetings defines—or perhaps even determines—the degree of unity of the group.
Composition—Do the members work together on the same project, such as the nursing and ancillary staff on the same ward of a hospital? Do they work on different but parallel tasks, like a meeting of the company’s plant managers or regional sales managers? Or are they a diverse group—strangers to each other, perhaps—united only by the meeting itself and by a common interest in realizing its objectives?
Motivation—Do the members have a common objective in their work, like a football team? Or do they to some extent have a competitive working relationship, like managers of subsidiary companies at a meeting with the chief executive, or the heads of research, production, and marketing discussing finance allocation for the coming year? Or does the desire for success through the meeting itself unify them, like a neighborhood action group or a new product design committee?
Decision process—How does the meeting group ultimately reach its decisions? By a general consensus, “the feeling of the meeting”? By a majority vote? Or are the decisions left entirely to the chairman himself, after he has listened to the facts and opinions.
Mr. Jay, “How To Run a Meeting”
Harvard Business Review, March-April 1976
3 ) Who should attend the meeting?
Make sure there is a reason for everyone to be in the meeting.
4 ) How long should the meeting be?
With your specific purpose of your meeting in mind, decide how long your meeting should be and stick to it.
Respect your attendees’ time. And they will respect yours.
5 ) Have you send out the agenda to whoever are attending your meeting?
If you want people to contribute in the meeting, make sure that they know what’s the meeting all about.
6 ) Before the meeting, have you read all the background papers?
One of the worst things that can happen in your meeting is to be unprepared for it. Your attendees will lose confidence in you once they know about it.
7 ) Have you consider how attendees are likely to respond to whatever you have to say in the meeting?
Always consider your attendees’ response, especially so if you are getting an approval or consensus from them on certain issues. The last thing that you want is to be caught off-guard by their response.
8 ) Have you decide how you might need to handle your attendees in order to get most appropriate outcomes from the meeting?
By understanding how your attendees behave in a meeting, you can act according to it and get the outcomes that you want.
For example, you know that some of the attendees are shy. Therefore, it will be good to chat with them encouragingly just before the meeting to put them at their ease.
9 ) Just before the end, have you sum up the meetings and actions to be taken?
This is to make sure everyone understand what need to be done.
10 ) After the meeting, have you follow up with minutes to make sure the action agreed upon is taken?
Again, this is to make sure everyone is on the same page and hold everyone accountable to what have been discussed in the meeting.
The questions are easy, and straight-forward yet most people do not ask themselves to ensure a productive meeting. More will be discussed on productive meeting in future post.