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Friday, February 08, 2008

20 thoughts for a successful meeting

I was reading the latest edition of Management Today last night and they had written down 10 ways to have a successful meeting.

I thought that I'd write down some of my thoughts just as a reminder to ensure that a meeting serves its purpose and runs smoothly.

Some of it is a bit Archangel Gabriel in desire - but if you aspire and do things in small chunks eventually you can eat an elephant......

  1. Do your homework - read all position papers in advance of the meeting.
  2. Write a bullet proof agenda. Don't be over ambitious - I've seen some agendas with 20 minutes to discuss a major strategic initiative. (See point 11 it may help) Stick to your agenda.
  3. Know who your allies are.
  4. Rehearse answers to awkward questions in advance.
  5. Take the sado masochists approach to meetings - give everyone a fair crack of the whip.
  6. If someone is quiet - ask them specifically for their view - especially if you know that they are an expert.
  7. Keep your meeting moving.
  8. Someone to take minutes.
  9. Agree and be clear about the next steps
  10. You are the ring meister - keep the lions in check.
  11. Get people to do position papers and then invite comment - it tends to speed up the process.
  12. When people come up with objections invite them to come up with two solutions.
  13. Build on what people say - don't be an idea killer.
  14. Leave people with a call to arms to take the matters forward.
  15. Remember the curse of Yes - you may need to check in with people to ensure they are positively acting on decisions reached in the meeting.
  16. People will agree a position in a meeting to conform to the will of the group - but all ready before they have walked out of the meeting they have already decided whether they will actively or passively support the initiative. (Have a look at my posts on the passive/aggressive organisation)
  17. Be a person of character - execute what you have agreed to deliver on in the meetings - ensure you can pass the shaving mirror test every morning.
  18. Ask what are we missing here - encourage people to take a deep dive at an issue.
  19. In a teleconference - ask people to say their name first before starting a point or joining the discussion.
  20. In a teleconference as for all meetings - people should be on time. (Punctuality is the politeness of princes my grandmother used to say).
One senior manager of my acquaintance allowed one minute for lateness and then locked the door and asked people to vote whether to let the late attendee enter. They tended to only do this once.

He felt that if they had to be at the Town Hall to collect a £1m cheque and had to be there by 10.00 they would break down doors - and felt that it was highly disrespectful to your work colleagues to keep them waiting more than a minute.

I think though that this is probably a bit draconian in terms of locking people out of a room even though it made the point somewhat vividly.

I'm sure that people have a number of tips that they might want to add to this post. Remember you may not be able to do these immediately - it is something to aspire to - remember Rome wasn't built in a day but it was built.

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