Here are a few tips to transform your office into a better place for meetings.
- Always distribute an agenda before hand. Be sure to send the agenda included and separate from the outlook invite. People search their inbox for lost information before they search their calendars.
- Ask others for topics on the agenda
- Always look to include agenda items that help your meeting participants feel like co-owners in the meeting’s success
- Ask for an agenda in advance of the meeting
- Ask if there are any action items from the prior meeting that you should be aware of
- If you have the action items from last meeting- send them out as a reminder prior to the meeting start.
Keeping a meeting on track when you’re in a meeting is probably the toughest task of them all. If the meeting has an agenda its usually a bit easier. The challenge is that in most of the deterants to meeting success are other people. Many of these people hold loftier titles than our own.
- Tell everyone how much you hate unfocused meetings, as you’re sure they all do, and communicate the steps you’re taking to make this meeting a little bit better.
- If others are running late. Get started with agenda items or productive discussion before the others get there. For example, feedback on the agenda, check in of action items from the prior meeting.
- Take notes.
- When the meeting loses steam and seems to go off track, ask if this is better discussed at another meeting. Or if you can, hop in to the discussion, and say I know we have a lot to cover so can we come back to this after the meeting? You’ll be amazed at how many important discussions become unimportant when they involve staying after the meeting.
- If a meeting really becomes in a whole, stand up and start taking notes of the discussion on the white board. This focuses attention on the meeting condoctor and gives you an opportunity to ‘classify’ the discussion for the group.
- Always ask ‘can we get started?’ if a meeting is running late.
- Take notes.
- When a discussion hits the circular loop, join in the conversation then pivot, turning to the meeting organizer and saying “I know you have a lot to cover, I’ll let you get us back on track”
- For meetings that habitually are poorly organized, be sure to schedule a key ‘meeting or appointment’ that either overlaps or immediately follows. Let the group know that you have to leave at ‘X’ time. You’ll be amazed at how well this focuses meetings.
- Send out meeting notes in email (be sure to put “Meeting Notes” in the email subject)
- Highlight the words ‘action items’ in the body of your email
- Always include an action item for yourself
- If the meeting organizer seems flustered at the lack of focus in his/her meetings, ask how you can help him or her out in the future.
- Ask the meeting organizer to send out the meetings action items.
It’s not going to change your company’s meeting culture over night, but slowly you’ll see a new paradigm start to emerge as people desire better meetings with accountability and follow through.