The first indicator of a successful meeting starts much earlier than the meeting itself. It goes back to when you start to justify if a meeting is needed to accomplish a goal. Once you’ve determined that a meeting is necessary, it’s important to think of those who would be crucial to invite to get the meeting objectives met. Invite only those who can contribute to the outcome in some way, shape, or form. Now, doing just that alone does not guarantee a successful meeting. One of the main reasons meetings are viewed as unsuccessful or a waste of time is bad organization.
Start with creating an agenda.
Here are 5 tips to get you started:
- Get input. Ask those invited to the meeting to provide input on what they would like to accomplish. If you’re hoping your attendees will be engaged and proactive during your meeting, be sure to have agenda items that reflect their needs.
- Ask questions. If you called a meeting to have specific questions answered, be sure to include those in the agenda. If the questions are for certain attendees, make that clear so that they can come prepared to have an answer for you.
- Provide time estimates by agenda item/topic. To ensure that you’ll have enough time to discuss everything you called the meeting for, provide estimates for how long each agenda item should be discussed. This forces you, as a meeting host, to plan ahead and be diligent about the important topics. Giving estimates also helps with the flow of a meeting as well, and gives a frame of reference to those attending.
- Identify those responsible. Sometimes, as the meeting host, you’re not necessarily responsible for any or all agenda items. If you’ve called a meeting to simply facilitate and gather information, let those who are responsible know exactly what they should come prepared with.
- Leave time for feedback. Give yourself about 5-10 minutes before the end of each meeting to discuss how well the meeting went and elicit feedback for what should be done differently for the next meeting. Learning from what you’re doing right (or wrong) will help you develop and lead to more effective meetings in the future.
Once you’ve created your agenda, be sure to distribute it ahead of time so that your attendees have ample time to prepare beforehand. Don’t forget to send out any other relevant materials for the meeting as well.
Find out how to avoid making this and other mistakes in meetings with our eBook, “5 Meeting Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them.”