We've all attended meetings which we've left feeling were a waste of time. Thinking back on my own career, I don't recall ever formally learning how to properly run a meeting. Weirdly it is just something that is never taught.
When we start out, the meetings we attend teach us the basic 'pattern' of a meeting. Once we start running our own meetings, we tend to emulate what we've previously experienced. Unfortunately, I believe many patterns people learn are deeply flawed and result in pointless, unproductive meetings.
Here is the list of five things that I believe all meetings need:
Meetings need a path to follow. The agenda provides this as a way to get to the goal of the meeting (we'll look at that in a bit).
Some agendas are pre-determined by the type of the meeting and therefore known in advance. Other meetings will require agreement on the agenda at the beginning by the leader and the participants.
Also referred to as 'requirements', pre-requisites are the tasks that need to be completed by the participants ahead of the meeting.
These are not a must-have for a meeting but where they are needed, if they aren't completed before the meeting starts, it should be rescheduled or cancelled.
Meetings need a leader. A leaderless meeting will go nowhere and be unproductive. If it is not clear at the start of a meeting who the leader is, this needs to be agreed upon.
The meeting leader holds the meeting participants to the agenda, ensures requirements are completed and makes sure the stated meeting goals are achieved.
Goals are a meeting must-have. More importantly, all participants need to have the same goal. The goal can be pretty much anything, including gathering information, brainstorming or determining next steps. The goal or goals determine the meeting outcome.
Without goals, there is no point to the meeting and no hope for it to be productive.
Time to reflect
Allow time at the end of the meeting to reflect on what has happened, and how it could be improved in the future. As for feedback and be open individually and collectively for continuous improvement.
TAKEAWAY: Including these five elements will make for more productive, effective meetings for your business Try them out in your next meeting and you'll see a significant improvement.