Effective meetings

General Grant’s Council of War, Massaponax Church, Virginia by Timothy H. O’Sullivan © MoMA

What do you think is necessary to make effective meetings? This morning I attended to a workshop about this topic and I am sharing just few notes about it. There are a number of factors that determine the actual efficacy. One of the secret is the length: a meeting should be long enough to cover specific topics but short enough to be interesting and participative. Another one is setting a clear purpose.

A meeting journey is composed by three phases: pre-meeting/preparation –> actual meeting –> follow-up/actions.

There are three main roles: the chairperson, the minute taker and participants. Obviously the main character in meetings is played by the chairperson who has to engage participants, setting the tone and keep the meeting on track.

The minute taker plays an important role because he is forced to be an active listener and has to use specific skills such as accuracy, objectivity and the ability of selecting what it is relevant.

Finally the participants. They should be active and engaged with discussions and updates. Their suggestions and feedback should be valuable, open and constructive.

It’s quite easy to remark factors that led to a bad meeting. This is my (negative) top 5. On the other hands, this could be my positive top five if you turn the points upside down.

5) Meetings with a weak agenda. Often repetitive and dull.

4) Chairperson/colleague who does not allow others to speak, also classified as “the talker” or “know all” or “I judge you”.

3) Weak chairperson without any prior preparation. Usually this category of people is not able to control meetings and the length of the time.

2) I am personally annoyed when I spot a colleague checking his ipad/laptop for news or emails. If you are attending at a meeting at least pretend to be interested and leave your ipad/laptop in the office, unless it’s essential to your role.

1) No actions taken. Ok so what’s the point of a meeting? It’s a waste of time for everyone.