By Janet M. Taylor
I started thinking back to when I attended my first meeting and it had to be when I was young playing with neighbors and we had our first business meeting. We started a pretend business, there were 3 of us and 2 of us now are business owners. Interesting how my path was set and I did not realize it. Since that day I have attended numerous meetings some great, some good and some just plain horrible. The worst meeting I ever attended was back when I started my business in the early 90’s. It was a local business group and after several hours and their lack of organization I vowed never to return and I never did. Since then I have had the pleasure of attending meetings that have been short, organized and focused where the committee got things done. I now find myself drawn to those types and having been a leader of many groups I wanted to share a few keys to make your meetings successful.
Following are a few complaints attendees of meetings have and how you can avoid them.
- Too long. I attended a phone meeting that lasted less than 10 minutes and it was to discuss working together as a team on a government project. The role call was done, updates provided, there were no questions and the leader adjourned the meeting. When the meeting leader is organized and those attending come prepared you too can have a short productive meeting.
- Boring. I have sat through meetings that have been boring and when you don’t stick to the agenda and begin discussing items that are no listed or are of no relevance to why the meeting was called you can lose the interest in those attending. When something is discussed in a meeting that is not on the agenda I lose interest. As a chair stick to the agenda and table other discuss for future meetings.
- Poorly Organized. I attended a meeting for a client that had to go out of town at the last minute. I arrived about 10 minutes before it was scheduled to start and was shock that about 5 minutes before the official start time they were placing the table cloth on the table and setting-up. While waiting for them to start I texted my client and informed him what was taking place. Having shared those details about the meeting he stated that it was not necessary for me to attend those meetings in the future. They lost my client’s support. My suggestion to you is arrive early if you are hosting the meeting make sure that 30 minutes before it starts you are ready to go and prepared for those arriving early.
- Called too frequently, not frequently enough. In 2012 I was the chair of the graduation committee for a leadership course I completed. Since I knew all the members of my committee worked full-time jobs, had families and volunteered on the weekend we met before our monthly class to discuss the details of the graduation. We met face to face once a month for an hour and communicated regular via email and phone calls if need be. I am happy to say that our graduation ceremony was a great success as a result of our teamwork.
Some final tips to a successful meeting:
- Every meeting should have a purpose or goal-plant the community garden, raise money for art supplies.
- Limit the size to those that need to attend. This prevents anyone without a vested interest from making comments
- Stick to start and end times listed on the agenda. This is a key to every successful meeting and shows everyone you respect their time.
- Assign someone to facilitate to keep the meeting moving.
- Assign someone to take the minutes.
- Be flexible and creative when planning your meeting by using different formats. With technology you can do FaceTime, Skype or conference calls.
Janet M. Taylor is a professional organizer, speaker and author with over 20 years of experience helping people get organized. If you are ready to get your life totally organized visit her website at www.janetmtaylor.com