Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How to Run Effective Meetings

Running an effective meeting
Begin all meetings with an agenda!

How do I run effective meetings? First, what does effective mean to me? It means the meeting is succinct, informative, has group participation, and conveys what is meant to convey to all parties in a relatively short period of time. For more in-depth meetings (brainstorming sessions, planning meetings), an effective meeting also produces the work product we intended.

Brief meetings (20-30 minutes)

I always prepare an agenda, even if it consists of 4 lines written on a white board. For very brief meetings, I have everyone stand. I learned this as an engineer just out of college at Honda of America. Nothing keeps a meeting short and to the point like having to stand! People make noises and begin to interrupt when others are long-winded.

Longer meetings (>30 minutes - 1.5 hours)

For longer meetings, I always prepare an agenda and email it out a day in advance for comment. Only those who are important to the subject matter are included. If someone believes a person should be added or she or he wants to make an in-depth contribution, I require the person to notify me in advance and I’ll schedule that person accordingly. Otherwise, at the meeting, everyone else is limited to 30 seconds – 2 minutes of discussion, depending on the time allotted to the meeting. 
Picture of clock hanging on wall
Effective meetings take less time.

Long meetings (>1.5 hours)

For long meetings, such as planning sessions, budget discussions, and more, everyone can freely discuss but I limit discussions to a time frame. This prevents us getting bogged down on a particular topic or stuck on an issue. 

Meeting minutes

For all meetings, I email out meeting minutes to everyone within 24 hours. This ensures that everyone has the same understanding of what was discussed and are clearly aware of the action items and timeframes for those actions. Thus, anyone who was not crucial to the meeting but who could benefit from the information can also obtain a copy of the meeting minutes.

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