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Conducting company meetings can be costly and eat up valuable time, which is why it’s important to make sure they are as productive as possible. Check out the meeting cost calculator that Mike found a few months ago. Here at Local Wisdom, we try to keep our meetings efficient and enjoyable. There are a few things we do before, during and after the meeting to make sure that we accomplish our goals. We’ve outlined some guidelines below to help you.
First of all, it’s important to have fun throughout the day. Creativity emerges when people in the room are enjoying themselves and engaging in conversation, so it’s important to laugh often.
Every meeting should have a facilitator who enforces the ground rules and keeps everything running smoothly. The leader is responsible for creating the schedule and agenda. Overall, it is this person’s job to focus all of the people in the room so that they are able to stay on task and move forward.
Who to Invite
Be careful about who you invite and always make sure to do your homework first. Those who are involved with the projects that are going to be discussed should definitely be invited. However, it might be beneficial to also include people who can provide input on the topic or gain knowledge about what is being discussed.
Provide as much advanced notice as possible. When meetings are planned ahead of time it is more likely that people will have clear calendars and be able to attend. Scheduling a meeting early also gives you a deadline to have certain work completed before the start of the meeting. Waiting until work is completed before scheduling the meeting can cause delays and missed opportunities.
Set up recurring meetings if you find you need to talk about the same topics or projects with the same group. For example, we began scheduling “scrum” times for reviewing work and answering questions. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning we meet to review architecture and design at a standing time. We no longer have to juggle times and locations for meetings and reviews. It may take a week or two to get this rolling but everyone’s schedule will eventually adjust around it.
State the Objective and Agenda
Whether the meeting is scheduled or standing, it’s important to state the objectives and agenda to ensure everyone is on the same page from the start. The objective should define what should be accomplished by the end of the meeting. The agenda could include a list of topics, activities, or discussions that will help us to achieve our meeting objectives. The goals and agenda should also be written somewhere for everyone to see. We keep a standard area of the whiteboard dedicated to writing these out. Following an agenda will help keep the meeting organized and productive.
Once the objectives and agenda are reiterated, introduce everyone in the room quickly and explain why they’re there. Sometimes not everyone is required to be there the whole time, especially during reoccurring meetings. As certain topics become irrelevant to people, they should be free to go if they wish.
It’s not uncommon for discussions to go into tangents. Identifying topics that are not specifically aimed at key points, but may be important later, are called our parking lot items. We take note of these topics and come back to them at a later time or maybe even a different meeting. This approach keeps the focus on the topic at hand and helps us achieve our meeting objectives.
Convergent and Divergent Thinking
Use convergent and divergent thinking in order to stay organized during ideation meetings. Convergent thinking encourages participants to think out loud and speak their ideas without any parameters. Ideas, good, bad, or irrelevant, are all accepted. Divergent thinking brings everything together and identifies which ideas are pertinent and can be made actionable. Splitting the two ways of thinking provides time for imagination while keeping a realistic mindset.
Who’s Doing What and When
At the end of the meeting, review who is doing what and by when. Make sure everyone is clear on what they should be doing next. Give people time to ask questions and get clarity. A follow up email of the meeting minutes should be sent to the attendees.
Following these guidelines has helped Local Wisdom stay efficient while not being stuffy and boring. There are hundreds of other meeting tips and tricks, what are some ways that your company conducts effective meetings and how have they been beneficial?