In the modern business world, meetings are a necessary (and ubiquitous) evil. There are sales meetings, planning meetings, marketing meetings, debriefing meetings, quarterly meetings, project meetings, committee meetings, meetings to set up other meetings… you got the idea.
For all of the meetings that you go to, you’ve probably found that many are ineffective; or to put it bluntly, a waste of time. It’s why meetings have a bad rep. They often devolve into unfocused conversations about topics that aren’t important that finally end without anything being solved or a clear course of action.
I can’t save you from other people’s bad meetings, but I can help ensure that your meetings rock. It takes 10-15 minutes of pre-planning, but it will save you hours of headache from long, tedious, ineffectual meetings.
Whenever you run a meeting, take a piece of paper (or open up a doc on your computer) and write down the following answers:
- The reason you are running the meeting
- Who is coming to the meeting and why
- The start and end time of the meeting
- The agenda topics to be discussed with a time parameter for each
- The action steps to be determined at the meeting
If you find that you can’t answer some of these questions, reconsider why you are running the meeting in the first place. (Please, please, please don’t run meetings that don’t need to be run). When you’re done, it looks something like this:
- Quarterly marketing meeting to analyze Q1 results and make changes to marketing composition
- Me, Nancy – Marketing director, Jim – District VP, Lucy – Marketing Coordinator, Bob – Sales Manager
- Meeting agenda
- 10:00-10:15 review marketing goals
- 10:15-11:00 review ROI on current marketing projects
- 11:00-11:20 look at other options
- 11:20-11:30 decide on marketing mix for next quarter
- By the end of the meeting, we should know what marketing tools we’ll use, and who has ownership of making them happen.
Your job, then, when you run this meeting is simply to keep everyone on track. Show up at the meeting, share the agenda, and say:
“Thanks for being here. I know we’re all busy people. So let’s agree to stay on target so we can accomplish what we need to, and respect everyone’s time. Cool? Alright, item number one…”