Set an agenda to make sure meeting is efficient

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 5, 2007

Meetings can be a waste of time because they lack effectiveness. Here is a guideline to plan and conduct effective meetings:

Plan in advance. Know what you want to accomplish (and what you want the group to accomplish). Write down a list of the reasons the meeting is necessary — and make sure you always have an agenda.

Identify the meeting’s purpose and objectives.

* Write an agenda and identify participants.

* Review the agenda by yourself or with supervisors to ensure you are getting across the intended message and achieving the anticipated results.

* Prepare timely and accurate information for use by the participants.

* Contact participants.

* Establish and communicate the time, date and location for the meeting and provide sufficient lead-time for participants to prepare. This will ensure the availability of key participants and help keep the meeting productive.

* Inform the participants of the meeting’s purpose and what materials they are to bring, if any.

During the meeting

Be on time, start on time and end on time. Distribute an agenda and control the meeting so each item on the agenda gets proper attention as planned. Remember at the beginning of the meeting to state the purpose(s) of the meeting.

* Keep the group focused. Groups get easily sidetracked when discussions begin. The leader makes sure that the agenda is followed.

* Explain the rules of your meeting at the beginning so everyone knows them. For example, participation by asking questions can be either during the meeting or after you have spoken. Standing meetings can have the rules stated at the first one. This lets everyone know how business will be conducted.

* Remain objective. Don’t let personal or hidden agendas interfere with the meeting’s objective.

* Make each participant’s responsibilities clear when assignments are determined. Set deadlines and get commitments that can be used to measure progress.

* You are in control, even when listening to others. Watch for attitude and involvement problems. Responding properly can ensure the desired level of participation. Remember your objectives and the results you want. Get the quiet one involved by directly asking for an opinion, but be cautious about putting someone on the spot in front of others.

* Always be alert to suggestions to make the meeting more productive.

Concluding

Record the proceedings for reference and follow-up. Who is to do what, where and when, and what resources will be used to accomplish the assigned task.

* Close by asking if there are any questions. Ensure all participants understand what is expected of them.

* As soon as practicable after the meeting, review your notes and agenda to ensure your original objective has been met.

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