A Guide to Effective Meetings
We have all worked in environments where a ‘meeting for meeting’s sake’ culture exists or we have left a meeting feeling the content could have been covered off over email. These meetings are generally ones that have been arranged as a tick box approach because it is seemed to be the right thing to do. These types of meetings can be very damaging to the culture and vision of a company, leaving people feeling like it’s a waste of their time and purpose. As a part of effective project management, meetings are a vital ingredient, they need to be handled correctly to make sure that everyone involved gets the most out of the meeting. Meetings within project management help staff to know what is to be completed for a project or initiative to be successful.
Meetings have become talk as to whether they are a waste of time, energy, and resources but generally it’s not the meeting itself that is the problem it is just the meeting has been run incorrectly. Meetings are still a great way to check in with colleagues, help encourage people on projects and to enable them to make crucial decisions about the business. What businesses should be able to do is take steps to make sure the meeting they are going to run is delivered effectively.
Following some basic steps will help your meetings to become more effective:
We have all been in meetings and video calls wondering ‘What am I doing in this meeting!’. The point here is having the wrong people in a meeting wastes time and can make people within the meeting feel undervalued. It is important as the meeting organiser to make sure you invite the key stakeholders and that’s it. It is understandable having every touch point in the meeting but try to question whether it is necessary. Another point to this is that having too many people in a meeting may make it harder to stick to time and cover all the essential points that need to be delivered.
An agenda is what outlines what is to be discussed in the meeting and it is always good practice to share this with all attendees before the meeting. This allows the attendees to be prepared and it also keeps the organiser on track with what is to be discussed. This helps to make sure that time is not wasted and that it does not over-run and impact the rest of the day.
Ground rules are so important for effective meetings and they should be established in advance across the organisation, putting in place a form of best practice for all meetings conducted. These suggested ground rules will help enable your meetings to become more productive. An example of a set of ground rules are below:
Start on time
Focus on the topic discussed
Actions, Minutes and Follow Up
This all depends on the type of meeting you are conducting but ensuring meetings are followed up with minutes and actions will prevent attendees from forgetting integral points and support the long-term success of your meetings. Most minutes will have an actions list accompanying them, outlining tasks, deadlines and who is to action each point, these should be produced as a minimum. These are a good starting point for when you have complied an action list from the last meeting to understand where people are at with the tasks that have been allocated.
A follow-up should be sent promptly after the meeting and should not wait until the next meeting as you would prepare the foundations of this in advance. The contents of a follow-up are to make sure all important information from the meeting is emphasised, usually via email or messaging platform. It is worth noting that while the organiser is responsible for following up on all points, it is also encouraged that attendees take their own notes and action points to combat any bottlenecks.
The above guidelines will help you conduct an effective meeting and remember there are many things that can happen to send a meeting array. This includes distractions, attendees not agreeing or new, unanticipated information being presented.
There are ways in which you can help control the meeting and these are all included in our Time Management training session, which is designed to help with understanding barriers and challenges that are faced within a meeting and how you can prepare for this. Here at PPS, we could help you with developing these skills so please get in contact and let a dedicated Learning and Development professional help you.