Meetings are an important part of work and there is no escaping them entirely. Whether it’s online or in the boardroom, with your colleagues or with your clients, meetings play a critical role in planning, strategising, and executing corporate initiatives. However, when conducted ineffectively, meetings can be a massive drain on the time, energy and resources of everyone involved.
While regular meetings help keep co-workers in close communication with each other, persistently ineffective meetings will actually hinder productivity. Efficiently run meetings, on the other hand, will drive the company or organisation’s agendas forward and aid in the progress of achieving everyone’s targets. It is therefore critical that meetings, whether they are daily, ten-minute affairs or yearly, day-long events, be conducted as effectively as possible, in a way that generates maximum positive impact.
Every successful meeting is divided into three main components: the pre-meeting preparation, the meeting itself, and the post-meeting follow up.
Preparation for a successful meeting begins with a concise agenda that details the intended purpose of the meeting, a list of items to be discussed, as well as the desired outcomes of the meeting. It is also important that the agenda be realistic about what can be achieved during the meeting. The agenda should also be sent out early enough for participants to schedule preparation time for themselves to ready whatever the meeting might require of them.
If you find that you have difficulty finding time to prepare before the meeting, our advice is for you to schedule an hour or so as a “meeting with self”. Treat this time as you would any other meetings, sit down with the agenda in hand, read it thoroughly, and prepare any necessary items accordingly. If you truly have no time to prepare, than ask yourself if you will be helpful at all during the meeting or if your presence would be a waste of your time and everyone else’s. For those who find a lack of time a persistent problem, PEPWorldwide Asia’s Time Management Matrix is a must-have.
If you do not have to prepare anything for the meeting, check to see if there are any questions you might have for your fellow attendees or any information you have that might be pertinent. If not, then ask if your presence is really needed for the meeting.
Assessing The Meeting’s Necessity
At PEPWorldwide Asia, we recommend using our PEP Impact Map to determine if the meeting will generate the kind of impact that contributes to the corporate goals of the company. If the resources and time it takes up isn’t justified by its impact on your team’s or company’s core objectives, then perhaps it isn’t one that’s necessary to have.
Furthermore, even if the meeting is necessary, see if there is any specific reason for your presence. Perhaps you’re only needed for one item on the agenda, in which case you should ask if you can go first or last, which would allow you to attend only a part of the meeting. If the purpose of your presence is just so that you are briefed or kept in the loop, check if you can send a representative or if you can just receive a copy of the meeting minutes. This will help you to save time and energy that could be directed at other, more productive activities.
Conducting The Meeting
During the meeting, the Chair, whose role is to encourage as much feedback from each participant as possible, has to set strict time limits for each agenda and speaker. Make it clear to everyone that the meeting will start on time. If people come in late, do not go over ground that has already been covered. We recommend sticking to the agenda as closely as possible, diverting any matters arising from the meeting to a future meeting if needed.
It is also the Chair’s responsibility to ensure that the people speaking are giving constructive feedback and that everyone’s opinions are being respected. They also have to ensure that no one is monopolising the meeting. If someone is taking up too much time, the Chair can intervened by saying something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, I can give you one more minute to wrap up. Then we have to move on.”
As the meeting progresses, ensure that the minutes of the meeting are being taken. It is generally a good idea to have a general template for meeting minutes so that people can grow accustomed to how the information is presented.
At the end of the meeting, take some time to review the decisions that have been made, the actions that are required, and the people who are in charge of following up.
After the meeting, the minutes, which is a written record of decisions, actions to be taken, deadlines, and delegated responsibilities, should be sent out promptly within the next day (the next week, at the very latest!) to all participants as well as to other relevant personnel. The people who were late or absent can go over the minutes to see what they had missed. In some companies, the meeting minutes have to be countersigned by the person preparing them, the attendees of the meeting and the Chair. If that is the case for your company, this process should take place as soon as possible, while the meeting remains fresh in everyone’s minds.
By referencing the meeting minutes, the Chair or the person charged with overseeing any follow-up actions should regularly communicate with the relevant people to ensure that the actions agreed upon are being acted on and that the timeline that planned-out during the meeting is being adhered to. This is a critical step in ensuring that the agenda that was discussed and the decisions that were made are being executed and acted on; this step ultimately decides if the meeting was successful or if it had been a waste of resources.
The PEP Way
At PEPWorldwide Asia, we recognise that what works for one company may not work for another; this is why our solutions are always tailored to best suit the needs of our partners. After all, PEP stands for Personal Efficiency Program, and we aim to maximise each individual’s potential by imparting key principles that can be applied in different work situations.
Therefore, continue to experiment and explore different types of meetings. Standing meetings, for example, may work better if you would like to keep your meetings short and informal. Walking meetings might be beneficial when only three or four people are involved. Whichever you choose, always ensure that you prepare sufficiently, conduct the discussion efficiently, and follow-up consistently.
About the Contributor:
Hidhir Razak is a Master of Arts graduate from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where he specialised in English and Creative Writing. A reader, writer, and researcher by training, his creative works have appeared in numerous anthologies and collections in Singapore while his articles have appeared on The Middle Ground, Yahoo Singapore, and Poetry.sg. Currently the Corporate Relations Manager of PEPWorldwide Asia, Hidhir is an ardent believer of the power of storytelling and its unique ability to bring people and communities together.
Angeline V. Teo is the President and Chief Consultant of PEPWorldwide (Asia) Pte. Ltd. She is also an International Speaker, certified Master PEP Consultant, Executive Coach and Author. Above all, she is a caring Mother of two, a loving Wife, filial Daughter and avid Spa and Vacation addict!