Meetings that generate more hot air than meaningful decisions are a nuisance. The culprit is often poor planning. Here’s how to do your groundwork to set up an effective meeting:
- Clarify the purpose of the meeting. If you can’t figure out what you need to accomplish, you shouldn’t be calling a meeting.
- Prepare an agenda with the focus stated in a single sentence at the top. If someone else is preparing the agenda, contact him or her to add your topics. A first-rate agenda includes not only discussion topics and their time allotments, but also the names of attendees; the location, date and time; and a list of any background material attendees need to bring with them. Circulate the agenda in advance.
- Make it clear that the meeting will start precisely on time. Establish a reputation as someone whose meetings begin (and end) as scheduled. People will respect you for it.
- Appoint someone to document a record of decisions made, action items assigned and follow-up strategies agreed upon. Promptly distribute a copy to all attendees.
- Leave time at the end of the agenda to evaluate the meeting: Did you achieve the objective stated at the start? How can you improve future meetings on this topic?