On meetings

Before a meeting:

  • Ask yourself: do we need a meeting?
  • Be clear on the purpose of the meeting: eg are you trying to align on something or create something? Are you sharing information or wanting to resolve an issue/disagreement? Is it purely focused on work/business, or is there a social purpose?
  • Plan the agenda to match that purpose, including the intended outcome of the meeting overall (which is linked to your mtg purpose) or — for longer mtgs — of each agenda item
  • How long do you need to achieve that purpose?
  • Some folk struggle with back-to-back meetings. How about starting your meeting at .05 or .35, to ensure people have at least some break? (This was a tip I got from James Cattell. With the same objective in mind, I was setting meetings to finish at .25 or .55, but they often over-ran and the planned break between meetings never happened — much better to change your start time.)
  • If you’re setting up a recurring meeting, always have a date when the series ends so that you review whether the meeting is still required
  • Decide what you think will constitute good practices/behaviours for this meeting (eg cameras on? what can you do to make the meeting inclusive?)
  • Sort out meeting roles — who’s going to do what to make this meeting a success?

Sort out your meeting roles:

  • Make sure you’ve got someone to chair the meeting, to be a ‘referee’: their job “is to shape the meeting to meet the requirements of the agenda and the expectations of the participants”
  • Designate someone to take notes in the meeting
  • Get the right people involved (the people in the room are more important than any process)
  • Right size the number of people to the purpose of the meeting
  • Include only those people who have got a clear role (listening and receiving information can be an important role)

During a meeting:

  • Start on time
  • Remind people of the practices/behaviours you’re expecting for the meeting and follow them yourself (eg be present, encourage everyone to participate, eg https://blog.usejournal.com/meeting-agreements-for-high-performing-teams-b10311a630d0)
  • Start by reviewing open items from the prior one of these meetings (if they’re still relevant)
  • Close the meeting by repeating the decisions, the issues that remain open/actions to be done, and the owners of those issues/actions
  • Finish on time. Or early.

After a meeting:

  • Send the notes from the meeting to the broadest possible set of appropriate people, after removing confidential or sensitive topics.
  • Talk to people and find out what they think worked/didn’t work — this is partly about building relationships and valuing people over processes, and partly about ‘reflecting on how to become more effective, and then tuning and adjusting accordingly’

Further reading

Remote & Hybrid meetings

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Senior Director @ElsevierConnect doing product strategy implementation & performance. Mainly writing about getting from A to B, & digital stuff. Personal acc’t.

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Richard McLean

Richard McLean

Senior Director @ElsevierConnect doing product strategy implementation & performance. Mainly writing about getting from A to B, & digital stuff. Personal acc’t.

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