Think of one of those endless, hour-long meetings that leave an entire department wondering, "What is the purpose of this discussion?" How many times have you been through this?
I remember some meetings like that and these are not good memories. I invite you to reflect upon best practices of meeting planning through 6 questions to create productive meetings:
1. How do I know if a meeting is necessary?
Before scheduling a meeting, consider whether the matter can be solved with an email or phone call quickly and efficiently. If in order to reach an objective, a meeting is inevitable, plan it to make it brief and productive.
2. What are the main reasons for scheduling a meeting?
According to a Harvard Business Review article, the main reasons for scheduling a meeting are:
Thinking about the reasons for scheduling a meeting helps you outline the format and prepare it in order to generate more results.
3. How to set the agenda?
The most productive meetings are those that have a clearly defined purpose. The success of the meeting depends on the agenda setting to achieve this goal. Prioritize issues by considering which ones will bring the most benefit. Determine a time for each subject and respect this limit. After that, let everyone know the details.
Early in the meeting, a simple statement clarifying the focus of the meeting and the presentation of the agenda can save a lot of time.
4. Who should attend the meeting?
The definition of objectives and priorities allows the creation of a list of attendees. Avoid the trap of huge distribution lists. Make sure that key decision makers will be present. If you need a senior manager, make sure you align with the person the best time, and then invite the others. If the meeting is with your client, they have priority over the calendar. You benefit when you talk to those involved beforehand to align content and schedule.
After defining the list, you can estimate if the meeting will be in person. It is very common and effective to hold online meetings, especially when giving preference to videoconferences, because they allow participants to feel as if they were together in the same room. If this is not possible, keep in mind that audio conferencing loses the visual interaction element.
5. How long does the meeting need to last?
The meeting should last only the minimum necessary to address the specific issues and achieve the goal. Unfocused meetings end up generate unfocused participants who will do something else such as, doing other jobs, responding to emails and messages, eating or preparing food, going to the bathroom, checking social media, playing video games, online shopping, exercising, or even answer another call.
With a well-organized agenda it is possible to let some of the people free to go if they have already made their contribution.
6. How to increase productivity during the meeting?
After all this preparation, it is easier to know what to expect. Think of an interesting way to tell the story of projects to engage people and gain their attention. Creating an environment in which the participants can express themselves and ensure that they are heard is fundamental to the evolution of the issues.
Always end a meeting by defining the next steps, deadlines and individual responsibilities. Keep notes on who, will do what, by when.
Denise Barbezani is Associate Certified Coach - ACC/ICF at the International Coach Federation. And certified in executive and personal coaching at ICI - Integrated Coaching Institute. She holds an MBA in marketing by one of the most important marketing institutions in Brazil, ESPM. She has 10 years of experience in multinational technology companies. Fluent in English, she holds a Proficiency Certificate from Cambridge University - CPE and a Bachelor of Arts in Portuguese and English as well as a translation degree from Universidade Anhembi Morumbi. She strengthened her entrepreneurship skills at Empretec Training, a UN methodology. Denise has already provided more than 500 hours of coaching and offers her services to more than 50 clients in Brazil and in the world through online sessions. As a coach, she helps people define and achieve their professional, life, and business goals. Today she lives near London, UK, with her family.