The following article was prepared by Mike Taylor, C.P.M., for distribution to ISM affiliate newsletters. 2014

Let's Plan a Meeting...

Better a face-to-face discussion instead of endless emails; right? Not necessarily.  A poorly planned and executed meeting can be a costly waste of time and leave participants more irritated than informed.

Planning and conducting an effective meeting is an important skill; well worth developing.  Here are a few of my pet peeves about poorly run meetings

If you schedule a meeting, respect the time commitment you are requesting and impact on other work of the invitees. Manage your meeting so that it is planned, effective and productive.

  1. Ensure participants are invited with sufficient lead time to allow rescheduling other work. Provide subject information so participants can make a determination about the priority of the new meeting to supersede other previously schedule work. Asking people to drop everything at the last minute to participate in a meeting, gives the impression that the work they are already doing is irrelevant or that their time is unimportant.
  2. Ensure participants understand the purpose and scope of the meeting as well as their intended role. Give them a chance to come prepared to discuss the topic, take notes, contribute information, etc.
  3. If you depend on someone else to schedule the meeting, ensure that the facility, equipment and invitations are accomplished in sufficient time to allow cancelling or rescheduling if something is missed or there is a problem.
  4. Arrive at the meeting in time to ensure the facility, handout copies, etc. are ready before the scheduled start time, so the meeting can start on time.
  5. If someone who is key to the discussion canít make it or will be late Ė reschedule the meeting.
  6. If you have to cancel a meeting at the last minute, call participants instead of just sending an email which might not be received before they had already left their offices on the way to the meeting.
  7. Turn off your cell phone too! If there is something more important than conducting the meeting we are already in Ė then cancel the meeting and let participants get back to work.
  8. If multiple topics are to be addressed, produce an agenda so the discussion can be directed to each topic in turn and not all at jumbled together.
  9. Start the meeting on time. Participants will learn to arrive on time, once they understand you plan to start on time. Expecting participants to sit around and wait for a meeting organizer who is habitually late or doesnít start on time, shows a lack of respect for the people and the work that they could have otherwise been doing.
  10. If someone walks in late Ė donít restart the meeting or re-visit items that have already been discussed. Participants who were on time, should not have to waste their time with the redundancy.
  11. Stick to the topic and purpose of the meeting. Redirect participants who get off topic or donít pay attention to an offline discussion. Donít let the discussion drift off into irrelevant topics or chit-chat
  12. End the meeting once the topic or purpose has been accomplished.
  13. If decisions are made or actions items are identified, ensure that they are adequately documented and distributed to participants. If the purpose of the meeting was to make a decision- and it is made - don't waste time in having to do it all over again in a few weeks because no one can remember what was decided or who had the action item
  14. Donít reopen topics to accommodate someone who elected not to participate in the decision process. If the purpose of the meeting is to make a decisions make sure the decision makers are involved or have delegated decision authority to someone who is participating.
  15. Finish on time or adjourn to a future time if additional discussion is required.

Let's hold a teleconference instead...

Better a face-to-face discussion instead of endless emails; right? Not necessarily.  A poorly planned and executed meeting can be a costly waste of time and leave participants more irritated than informed. 

Is a teleconference a better idea? NO! Not unless you plan to avoid the many technical irritants that will spoil your meeting. Here is a great example of what can go wrong in a teleconference (so very true to life...)

http://youtu.be/DYu_bGbZiiQ

Here is a previous program I presented about planning meetings:  click here.   Here is an older version of a similar program. click here  


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