It is hard to believe that we are already into the holiday season. Where has this year gone?
This is the time of year when churches are planning lots of activities and events.
And with all of those events comes meeting invitations – and the hope that the organizer is successful at facilitating productive meetings.
What is your response when you hear that you have a new meeting on your calendar?
Its funny how different the response is when you ask people this question. You know immediately the perception people have about meetings.
Unfortunately, many people don’t see meetings as a good use of time.
This is because meetings, without a purpose and a structure, are a waste of time and valuable resources.
To give you an illustration, the next time you are sitting in an unproductive meeting, look around the room and calculate the approximate hourly rate on all the attendees to see the real cost of the meeting time.
This number can be staggering – which is why it is so important to make good use of our time when we schedule meetings at work.
6 Tips To Make Meetings More Productive
1. Set An Agenda
Agendas are the structure for productive meetings. This first step is the most important in successful meeting planning.
A well thought out agenda is one of the most important aspects of meetings that produce results.
An agenda should have several components.
a. Agenda items – discussion topics
b. Topic expert – someone who can articulate the topic/issue to be discussed
c. Times – each agenda item should have a time allotment/limit
d. Timekeeper – every meeting should have someone who facilitates the meeting and keeps everyone to the agenda and the allotted time limits.
Send the agenda out to attendees a day or two ahead of time to give them time to prepare.
2. Have the Right People in the Room
Take the time to think about who should be part of the team you will be asking to meet. Select and invite the right people to ensure the meeting is a success.
All stakeholders (anyone affected by the decisions made) should be represented.
It makes no sense to discuss a topic without the people who understand the issues of the topic.
For example, if there is a meeting scheduled to plan a big church event, the volunteer coordinator would be an example of a stakeholder who should be included.
3. Facilitate the Process
Effective meetings need to be facilitated.
Meeting facilitation is a skill that can be learned.
A trained facilitator is important because in order for a meeting to stay on track, and achieve its purpose, someone needs to take lead and make it happen.
The role of the meeting facilitator is to:
- identify a time keeper
- assign someone to take notes
- manage the conversation to ensure that everyone participates
- assign responsibility for action items
- make sure the meeting starts and stops on time
4. Agreed Upon Next Steps
Effective meetings move the needle and result in natural next steps and action items. And unless a meeting is a one time gathering, there should be agreed to next steps assigned to someone before the meeting ends.
Identify action items (homework) and assign them to team members to accomplish before the next meeting.
Next steps can be anything from researching additional information, collecting data or simply creating a form for the group to use.
Identify next steps, and assign responsibility to ensure the necessary work gets done.
5. Start and End Meeting on Time
Few things frustrate meeting participants more than people showing up late for a meeting or a meeting that runs past its end time.
Be diligent with starting and ending the meeting on time.
This can be done by taking the time to establish meeting ground rules at the first team meeting and assigning someone to be a time keeper to ensure the meeting stays within the allotted agenda time.
6. Send Out Meeting Summary
After a meeting has ended, send out meeting notes that summarize what was discussed and next steps.
This creates a record of the meeting and serves as a reminder for meeting participants as to what was discussed, and who will be doing what, before the next meeting.
Team membership should also be reevaluated on a regular basis to make sure that the right people are in the room to help the team achieve its objectives.
Meeting success is a result of well thought out agendas and great team leader skills and meeting facilitation. This includes the ability to manage the personalities in the room to ensure that everyone participates, and that the dominant personalities don’t monopolize the conversation.
Take some time to plan your meetings and enjoy the response from team members who feel like participation is a privilege rather than a punishment!
What are some creative ways you manage meetings at work?