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Advice from Outside the Square

Effective Meetings

Effective Meetings

Your meeting should be an event that produces results or outcomes and not the “process of meeting.” Things need to get accomplished. Picture33To improve the results of a meeting, begin by defining and improving the meeting process and people’s commitments to it.

According to a study by the University of Southern California in Los Angeles (as cited in Forbes, 10/25/93)

  • The average meeting takes place in the company conference room and 11 in the morning and lasts an hour and 30 minutes.
  • It is attended by nine people — two managers, four co-workers, two subordinates and one outsider — who have received two hour prior notification
  • It has no written agenda, and its purported purpose is complete only 50% of the time.
  • A quarter of meeting participants complain they waste between 11 and 25 percent of the time discussing irrelevant issues
  • A full third of them feel pressured to publicly espouse opinions with which they privately disagree. Another third feel they have minimal or no influence on the discussion
  • Although 36% of meetings result in a “complete” resolution of the topic at hand, participants considered only one percent of those conclusions to be particularly creative.
  • A whopping 63% of meeting attendees feel that underlying issues outside the scope of the official agenda are the real subjects under discussion.
  • Senior executives spend 53% of their time in meetings, at an average rate of $320 per person hour.

Some Steps:-

1. Clarify The Meeting Objective

The team begins the meeting by ensuring that people understand and agree on what is to be accomplished. Objectives include both the content of the meeting and the specific process objectives, such as improving participation, gathering initial ideas and listening to others.

2. Review Roles of Participants

Confirms who will be taking on specific roles for the meeting and what their roles will be. These can include: leader, team members, recorder, timekeeper, and facilitator.

3. Review the Agenda

Each agenda item includes the methods (e.g., brainstorming, mind mapping, cause and effect tools, fishbone diagrams, system thinking, roadblock analysis process, etc.) to be used for that item as well as the amount of time to be devoted to each.

4. Work Through Agenda Items

There may be one or several items for a particular meeting. The team works through them in an organized manner, using the methods and the time frame decided upon in step 3 above.

5. Review the Meeting Record

Team members should review information recorded on flipcharts during the meeting to refresh their memories about what has occurred in previous meetings along with what has been decided. The team should check for corrections or additions to these meeting records and decide what information needs to be kept in the team’s permanent transcript. In many organizations, these are included in formal knowledge management databases and archives. Try to add to the Learning Organization focus, if applicable.

6. Next Steps and Next Meeting Agenda.

By the end of the meeting, the group should discuss what needs to be done based on the results of this meeting and the start of the next. Often, there are multiple steps and tasks needing followup or planning. Agree on the work that needs to be done next in order to advance. Clarify if necessary and complete the transcription of the goals, summarizing commitments.

7. Evaluate the Meeting

Team members should take a few minutes to discuss:

* What went well that we should continue doing?

* How could we improve the next meeting?

Meetings are part of the improvement and communications process. They should be tied to long-term learning objectives and organizational development initiatives. They can serve many useful purposes (but sometimes do not!).

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