Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Ten tips for better meetings

Meetings can be tricky things. I try to minimise the number I attend, always trying to only go to decision-making meetings (read more on that here). Information/advisory meeting results I can catch up on from colleagues, though those with planning elements I may attend the section that relates to me via Skype.

We need to attend meetings where we can contribute, because everyone's time is precious. We can never get back that hour lost to mind-numbing, head-nodding, dribbling boredom. 

So instead of playing bullshit bingo (where everyone counts how often business jargon occurs), there are some things we all need to do in order to be good meeting attendees:

  1. Have asked how we can contribute to the meeting when the invitation comes to us, before accepting it. Only accept if we have a clear contribution to make.
  2. Be prepared for the meeting by having read any previous minutes; having completed past action points (or have a strategy for completion to report); having read the agenda and confirmed it, or having communicated extra business and questions with the chair a few days before if not; having let the chair know if you have to go early.
  3. Be early to the meeting. Just five minutes makes a difference.
  4. Have all we need with us. Have all the files we will need, water, and a way to take notes on what we need to do for next time.
  5. Remind the chair at the start of the meeting if we have to leave early.
  6. Help to keep the meeting on topic if it strays (more on that here).
  7. Summarise things related to us and remind the minute taker what the action point relates to our tasks.
  8. Listen respectfully. Thank people for their insight. Focus critique on the roadblocks with other's ideas, not on the ideas themselves (and of course, definitely not the person!)
  9. Ask people who have been left out of the conversation for their ideas. Those sneakily quiet people can be extremely insightful.
  10. Make notes about the things that we are 'coming back to later' and if they are not covered, remind the chair before the meeting end.
Practising and reminding everyone of these behaviours builds a culture of respect. 


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