How To Institute Proactive Meetings & Workshops

One of the most important and often neglected aspects of business today is communication. It's also one of the biggest contributors to failure within large and small businesses alike. Effective communications are like any other aspects of a business and work better when they're well planned.

Effective communications start with effective meetings and, in today's fast-paced world, time is of the essence. In order to avoid wasting time, we should focus on getting the best results in the shortest possible time frame.

This can best be achieved by observing one of the cornerstone principles of life and business, namely, the 5 P's.

Proper preparation prevents poor performance

Applying this process will improve the outcome of any task you tackle.

Meetings can be held for a variety of purposes. Whether it's to launch a new product, discuss the new employee benefits or organize a sales conference, every meeting requires thoughtful planning and advance preparation.

The old scenario of, "Oh, quickly Jane, get everyone together for a staff meeting. I need to tell the employees about this new superannuation package," generally results in a hastily convened meeting where:

Sound Familiar?

An effective meeting has an outcome (i.e. a desired result) and leaves the participants satisfied with the process that led to that outcome. To plan and execute a successful meeting, it's important to understand the basic components.

The first question you should ask yourself is:

"Is this meeting really necessary?"

As we discussed in the section "Effective Time Management" (and especially bearing in mind the cost of conducting a meeting in relation to the gains that will be made as a result of its outcomes), other questions you should ask are:

"Is this the best use of the time available right now?"

and

"Why do we want to meet?

Is a meeting the best way to meet that objective?"

If the answer to these questions is "YES", then plan the meeting, taking into account the following components.

Basic Components of a Meeting

A comprehensive list of components of a successful meeting includes:

Content of a meeting

The objective, the expectation, the materials providing information for the meeting and the action items are all components of the content, which is what the meeting is all about. The following list details these items:

Process

The agenda, presentations, approaches to decision-making, pacing and follow-up are all components of process; they determine how the meeting is controlled. How the meeting is conducted is important to reaching the objective, determining the quality of the outcome and satisfying the participants.

Tip

Providing the objective, expectation and information required for a meeting to all participants well in advance of the meeting is always a good idea. It gives participants an opportunity to think about the issues, read and absorb information and make meaningful contributions during the meeting that will assist with building better relationships within the organization.

Participants

Who should be invited to the meeting? Identifying participants, assigning clear roles and responsibilities for each, establishing trust and openness and outlining a clear understanding of who has authority in the meeting are all critical components of determining the participants who will contribute to the meeting?

Selecting participants involves addressing issues of inclusion, exclusion, influence, attitude, trust and control. Here are some considerations:

Environment

The physical environment of a meeting will have a significant impact on the outcome and is often an underrated component in the success of a meeting. The environment helps to set the scene for successful interaction, focus and pacing. Location, seating, audio-visual and electronic aids, arrangements for break times, refreshments and an absence of interruptions and distractions all impact on the success.

Interruptions and distractions should be avoided or kept to a minimum to keep the meeting on track and focused. Mobile phones and pagers should all be turned off before the commencement of a meeting.

Meeting Types

There are five common types of meetings that we will be discussing in this section:

  1. Informative
  2. Team-Building
  3. Negotiation
  4. Project Scheduling And Management
  5. Problem-Solving

Some meetings will have multiple purposes. For example, a sales conference may present new products, therefore you might want to solicit sales representatives' input in order to develop a marketing plan and build enthusiasm and team morale.

Informative meetings

The primary purpose of Informative Meetings is to educate. This includes information on new products and competitor's products, training meetings for sales, service and new technologies, procedures for the office or changes in superannuation and employee medical benefits.

Some issues to be considered in planning a successful informative meeting include:

Methods to consider utilizing in an informative meeting include the following:

Team-building meetings

Team Building Meetings have a primary purpose of building or rebuilding group focus, momentum, morale and enthusiasm. Examples include staff meetings; meetings called during or after a merger, acquisition or downsizing; meetings after a key employee leaves an organization or rewarding exceptional service and performance.

Issues to be considered in planning a team-building meeting include:

Methods to consider utilizing in a team-building meeting include:

Negotiation meetings

The primary purpose of Negotiation Meetings is finding a mutually satisfactory outcome. They include union contracts, joint ventures, vendor disputes and purchase and outsourcing contracts, to name but a few.

Issues to be considered in planning a negotiating meeting include:

Methods to consider utilizing in a negotiating meeting include:

Project scheduling and management meetings

The primary purpose of project scheduling and management meetings is keeping projects on target, on time and within budget. Projects encompass new product development, new product launch, software development, new marketing strategies, staff development programs, or installing a performance evaluation.

Issues to be considered in planning a project scheduling and management meeting include:

Caution

Failure to ensure buy-in, the full trust and participation of each participant, leads to meeting failure. A participant may promise efforts she or he will not make or an outcome in which she or he has neither ownership nor confidence. Take the time to identify barriers to buy-in and resolve them before the meeting.

Methods to consider in a project scheduling and management meeting include:

Problem-solving meetings

The primary purpose of Problem-Solving Meetings is to fix something that isn't working. This can be for a wide variety of reasons and include a product defect, a client relationship, an ethical dilemma or an ineffective marketing campaign. Problem-solving meetings may address one or more of the following steps: problem identification, analysis, solution criteria development, alternative solution generation, evaluation and decision-making.

Issues to be considered in planning a problem-solving meeting include:

Methods to consider utilizing in a problem-solving meeting, depending on the steps to be undertaken in this particular meeting, may include presentation of symptoms, possible causes and alternative solutions.

The following table is a guide to assist you in preparing for different kinds of meetings with different kinds of outcomes, content and processes, but these share one common criterion: does the benefit of this meeting exceed its cost?

Mind Map

Section Review

Meeting Agenda Template

Meeting Agenda Template Meeting Agenda Template Meeting Agenda Template Meeting Agenda Template Meeting Agenda Template Meeting Agenda Template Meeting Agenda Template