How To Run Productive Meetings
by Howard Freedman
Copyright 2019 Financial Aid Consulting. All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced mechanically, electronically, by photocopying or by any other means without expressed written permission of the author.
Howard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meetings consume more time than most payroll professionals can afford to spend. While they can be productive, they are not always necessary or reflective of the priorities of those who attend. Time management and results can be improved by reducing the number of unnecessary meetings and by improving the productivity of those that must be held.
An effective meeting begins with you — the professional and leader. You create the need, articulate expectations, and orchestrate the essentials of a productive meeting. Evaluate why the meeting is needed and what exactly needs to be accomplished and identify necessary attendees.
Your first step is to justify why you need a meeting. If a meeting is necessary, select a time when the most people are likely to be available, but realize that not everybody may be able to make it. Request the names of alternates yet recognize that you must limit your audience in order to get the maximum input and participation from everyone. Key players who cannot be there in person should attend via teleconferencing, if possible. Then e-mail your invitation with an agenda so that everybody is prepared to contribute. Request a “read receipt” to ensure each attendee can prepare for the meeting.
Conducting and Leading
Once the meeting time approaches, there are a number of key elements to remember in order to conduct a time-efficient meeting. Following these will make the meeting a more pleasant experience for everyone.
* Begin the meeting promptly, recognizing and thanking those who have committed to being there on time. The others will have to catch up once they arrive.
* Assign a timekeeper to keep the meeting on schedule. You only have the conference room for one hour, and the timekeeper must get you to the finish line on time.
* Assign a note taker and/or use a tape recorder if possible. This will allow you to recap the meeting without losing any of the content.
Next, you must get everybody to ACT
Attend the full meeting without leaving before the tour concludes.
Acknowledge the other's comments.
Add to the discussion with constructive input.
Cell phones and pagers must be turned off.
C onsent — Silence means consent to any votes.
Concision — Be concise and conclude your comments in the allotted time.
Tolerate no backstabbing or negativity.
Talking — One pers.on talks at a time with no side talk.
Task-orientation — Get through the agenda with results
• It is imperative to document the meeting and the results. Another meeting may not be necessary unless added items warrant one. Communicate this information by e-mail and solicit feedback to bring closure or to decide on the next steps and ongoing communication methods.
• When communicating post-meeting commentary, remember to keep messages quick and to the point.
• Keep e-mails short, and use bullet points to emphasize each statement. Be sure the reader understands any action that he or she must take. Realize that participants can spare a minute or two in order to accomplish goals set at the meeting.
• Voicemails should be no more than 30 seconds. End them with an action item such as requesting a simple "Yes" or "No" or any brief comments you expect back.
• Keep pager messages short and simple. For example: "Thanks for attending the meeting. The recap and action items have been e-mailed to you. Please acknowledge receipt."
Should You Attend Other Meetings?
• When the shoe is on the other foot, you should decide if you really have the time or need to attend another meeting. Turn things around by asking the meeting leader for an agenda. This will help you to decide if you should attend. If not, be sure to ask if there is any information needed in your absence.
• If you cannot attend a lengthy meeting, clarify how long you are available. Then ask if you can be put on the agenda early if your input is solicited. Ask to be teleconferenced if you cannot attend. In that way, you can participate while doing your work.
• Write out a script or outline of what you want to say. This will prevent you from losing your train of thought or masking good points with added rhetoric or emotion. By using bullet points to accentuate specific arguments, your audience will more clearly understand the information you are presenting.
• Agree to nothing that you cannot deliver. Attendees seem to unload added responsibilities on those who cannot attend. Realize that it is better to say "no" to something you cannot accomplish than to say "yes" to something you will not accomplish.
Meetings as a Last Resort
• Not all meetings need to be lengthy, as long as they are business-like and result-oriented. You may want to ask the following questions when planning meetings.
• Are short daily meetings more productive than one hour-long meeting?
• Can you combine meetings with other departments?
• Does designating a company meeting coordinator to make sense?
• Can you teach others how to lead a better meeting?
• Does the number of attendees hinder the effectiveness?
Running a successful meeting is a skill that takes time to develop. Like actors, we must rehearse our roles so that we are comfortable with our parts and the quality of what we say. Always remain focused on your purpose and the time it takes to stay on track. The results are better meetings and a stronger foundation on which to become a more effective leader.