Getting To The Meet Of The Matter (Part One)

TO meet or not to meet? That is the question. Are you in a company that has meetings purely for the sake of having a meeting? An organisation where your boss concludes one by saying ‘Right, let’s meet again tomorrow, same time, same place’ with no particular reason?

Having a meeting with nothing to discuss is rather like having gravy without the meat – or the meet perhaps! You get the picture.

If you work an eight-hour day and have two hour-long meetings every day it means you spend a quarter of your working life in them. They can of course be useful. Equally, they can be a waste of time. You should consider more effective and efficient ways of doing things.

The most essential aspect of any meeting is that others are clear about the purpose. Is it to pass on or obtain information, to seek views or to identify possible ways of dealing with a problem? It might be to take a decision, to get people to take action, to support a particular point of view, to resolve differences, review progress, or plan future work.

With the purpose established, the next consideration is whether you really need a meeting. Could an email, phone calls, or face-to-face chats be a more efficient alternative?

Once it has been decided a get together is the way forward, it is vital to prepare thoroughly. You must identify those people you believe are essential to the meeting’s success. Those who you think need to be there. Then consider those with an interest who ought to be invited. Next, fix the date, time and venue and make sure the participants have any information, papers etc they need before the day.

The most important consideration is what outcome you hope to achieve and to make sure you prepare the ground beforehand, perhaps by speaking to key people. Make sure the agenda is with attendees in good time, not at the meeting. Otherwise they will spend the whole time reading the notes instead of listening and joining in the discussion – and possibly ask for more time to read the papers before expressing a view.

Remember, like most things, preparation, preparation, preparation is paramount.

(Based on an extract from The Greatest Management Tips in the World)

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