Sunday, January 4, 2009

How To Conduct Meaningful Meetings

Writen by Jonathan Farrington

Too many meetings, too little time. When the true cost of holding just one meeting is accurately calculated, it should provide sufficient motivation for us to want to ensure that all of our meetings are meaningful, necessary and can be justified.

I am sure you have heard the one about meetings?

"Are you lonely?

- Work on your own?

- Hate having to make decisions?

- Rather talk about it than do it?

Well, why not hold a meeting?

- You get to see other people

- You can sleep in peace

- Offload decisions

- Learn to write volumes of meaningless rhetoric

- Feel important

- Impress (or bore) your colleagues

And all in work time!"

But of course, it doesn't have to be like that.

Are Meetings A Waste Of Time?

Why they cause frustration

• Too many of them

• No real purpose

• Too long

• Platform for the talkative

• Few decisions come out of them

• Make straightforward issues complicated

• Often slow things down

Potential benefits

Run properly they can be an effective means of:

• Communication to a group

• Meeting people face-to-face

• Improving the quality of decisions

• Getting to know people

• Drawing from a variety of different experiences

• Building teams

The following figures are based on a working year of 288 days, with one working day equal to 7 hours. (I wish!) You begin to realise the true cost of holding a meeting.

Salary Per Annum: £40.000

One Hour Meeting: £24

One Day Meeting: £168

Salary Per Annum: £60.000

One Hour Meeting: £36

One Day Meeting: £252

Salary Per Annum: £80.000

One Hour Meeting: £48

One Day Meeting: £336

Salary Per Annum: £100.000

One Hour Meeting: £60

One Day Meeting: £420

Some Tips To Ensure A Successful Meeting:

• Only hold meetings if they are really necessary

Could people be told any other way?

Consider the cost; meetings are expensive – time away from job, salaries of those attending.

• If they are needed, then plan for them

What do you want to achieve?

What are you going to discuss?

What decisions will need to be made/actions taken?

Who needs to be there? How are you going to tell them what it's about and why they are invited?

How long can you allocate to the meeting?

Remember, if you fail to prepare, then prepare for your meeting to fail.

• Prepare an agenda

Include only relevant items

Put them in order of importance

Decide who will lead the input on each

Allocate time for each item (don't forget to allow for a 5 minute break at least once an hour)

What could go wrong and what will you do?

• Collect all information

If it's lengthy, summarise it, outlining key points

Send out agendas and key points in advance

• Prepare the room

Ensure that there are sufficient tables and charts

If you want equipment (eg: flip charts, PCs overhead projectors) make sure it is available and working

Arrange refreshments

And Finally: Running The Meeting:

Achieve faster, more efficient results by:

• Telling everyone the purpose

• Setting the scene for each item, eg: open discussion by inviting specific contributions from those present

• Letting everyone who has something to say make a contribution

• Summarising what's been said

• Watching for signs of non-participation

• Sticking to time (always start on time and don't be afraid to finish early)

• Agreeing actions to follow

• Not being afraid to critique the meeting, i.e.: Was it worth it?

• After the meeting:

Circulating minutes promptly to those attending and interested parties

Monitoring and reviewing progress of any actions decided

End Result? A Successful Meeting And All In Work Time!

Copyright © 2006 Jonathan Farrington. All rights reserved

Jonathan Farrington is the Managing Partner of The jfa Group To find out more about the author, read his weekly blog or to subscribe to his newsletter for dedicated sales professionals, visit:

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