One of the most frustrating elements of many managers’ calendars are meetings. If you ask people they mostly believe there are too many participants, that meetings take too long, and that some individuals talk too much and venture off-topic. And most people are unable to remember what was decided or which actions came out of the meeting. The tool I am sharing helps a chairperson to prepare for a meeting and it helps him or her communicate the specific overall objectives for the meeting and also for every agenda item.
Some of the meeting maladies mentioned above can be cured simply by creating and distributing an agenda to participants before having the meeting. This tool goes further though – it also helps to create clarity around each agenda item’s purpose in informing participants or driving decision-making to move a project or initiatives forward.
The template you can download above contains an example to illustrate its use. Just replace the agenda items shown with your own meeting agenda items and then complete each column as demonstrated to clarify who is responsible for each agenda item, the purpose of each item, and the allocated time and desired outcome for each of the agenda items. Do share the objectives, time available and expected outcomes with those who are assigned to each agenda item – it helps him or her be prepared to guide the conversation and discussion accordingly.
- Even with an agenda and a well-planned meeting there may be times when things need to change as it becomes clear that a critical issue requires to be solved right-away. Give yourself the leeway to abandon the agenda for a particular meeting to deal with such a highly critical and important issue or set another meeting right after the planned meeting to address the issue.
- Some successful chairpersons make use of meeting “agreements” or “ground rules” to further improve the quality of the meeting. Some have items such as “each speaker gets a maximum of 1 minute to make his or her point” and “we debate issues and we respect the opinions of others.”
- To know if your meetings are getting better – get feedback from your meeting participants. Take a few minutes at the end of the meeting to ask what went well and what could be better in future – exactly how. Reviewing the feedback when you plan the next meeting can help you to be mindful of further improvements that can be included going forward.
I hope this tool helps you plan your next meeting and move closer to having productive meetings which helps you progress your project or initiative as you had hoped.