Meetings are a crucial element in business: many billions are held world wide every day. Whether you are attending as a participant or a chairperson, you can improve your handling of meetings so that they run more efficiently and effectively. The following section offers practical advice on all aspects of holding meetings, both formal and informal. Essential information is included on planning and preparing an agenda, choosing a venue and arranging seating, keeping on schedule and closing meeting. Throughout the section, useful tips are provided to give clear and concise information to help you make a positive contribution towards achieving the objective of any meeting you attend.
This month we will cover:
1) Using meetings effectively
The sub topics under this section that will be covered are:
A) Do you need a meeting?
B) Knowing your aims
Using Meetings Effectively:
Meetings cost time and money, both of which are valuable. Hold meetings only when necessary, and ensure that they are concise and constructive.
1) Do You Need A Meeting
Most managers feel pressurized by the amount of time they are expected to spend in meetings. But how many meetings really serve a useful purpose? If you were to consider the true cost of meetings you might arrange and attend fewer of them!
A) Defining Meetings
A business meeting consists of people coming together for the purpose of resolving problems or making decisions. A casual encounter in the corridor between colleagues could be described as a meeting. However Most meetings at work are more formal, with a prearranged time and venue. They may be one-to-one meetings with a senior manager, colleague, or client, but usually they consist of more than two people. The typical meeting has a clear defined purpose summarized in an agendas - a written list of issues to be discussed - that is circulated in advance.
B) Considering Costs
The best meetings save time and money by bringing together the right people to pool their knowledge for a defined purpose. However many meetings are held unnecessarily - for example, the regular team meetings that once had a purpose but then became a habit, or the meeting seen a break form working alone. These are expensive luxuries. The biggest cost of any meeting is usually that of the participants’ time - from reading the agenda and preparing materials, to attending the meeting. If participants will have to travel this time will also have to be taken into account. Finally there is “opportunity cost": What could the participant have been doing if they had not been in the meeting, and how much would that have been worth to their organization? Consider all these costs before calling a meeting.
Holding A Meeting
A meeting brings together members of a department and a managing director in order to resolve an issue. Based on their combined salaries, of $180,000 a year, annual overhead of $100,000, and various sundry costs, the hourly cost of this meeting is $178
Adding Up Costs
To work out a meeting’s total cost, first calculate the combined salaries of all the participants. Add to this the annual cost of their respective organizations’ overheads, and divide the sum by the number of working hours there are in a year (working hours per week * working weeks per year). Add any sundry hour cost, such as room hire. this final cost is the cost per hour of the meeting. Is the purpose of the meeting really worth that much money? It may well be; but should always consider less costly but equally effective alternatives.
2) Knowing Your Aims
Meetings can be held for any number of different reasons. The exact purpose of a meeting must be clear well in advance to both the chairperson and the participants. This helps every one to make the meeting a success.
Always be clear about the purpose of a meeting form the outset.
A) Considering Purpose
The purpose of most meetings will fall into one of the following categories. Decide in advance to which of these a particular meeting will belong, and ensure that all participants are aware of it:
Imparting information or advice
Addressing grievances or arbitrating
Making or implementing decisions
Generating creative ideas
Presenting a proposal for discussion and, usually, for ultimate resolution
Questions To Ask Your Self
Is the purpose of the meeting clear to every one?
Does every one need to attend the entire meeting?
Is there a better way of addressing the issues than having a meeting?
Are there other people who do not usually attend your meetings who might make useful contributions this time?
Will the meeting benefit form the use of any visual aid?
B) Sorting Out Details
When you have decided what the main purpose of the meeting should be, you can begin to consider other details. Think about how long the meeting should last, and bear in mind which issues need to be discussed and the amount of time that should be allocated to each. Remember to allow time for delegation of task, maybe refreshment break, and summing up. Be sure to schedule the meeting so that the right people, with the requisite levels of authority, are able to attend. If they cannot, rearrange the meeting at a more convenient time. when it comes to meetings that are held regularly, check at frequent intervals that they continue to serve a useful purpose and do not waste time.
C) Assessing Personal Aims
Whether you will be chairing a meeting or simply attending one, reflect in advance on the specific objectives of the meeting as well as your own personal aims. There might be certain items in the agenda on which you have interest, for example. Clarify in your minds what outcomes you will consider acceptable. You can then start to prepare accordingly. Another question to consider is whether you can minimize the amount of time you spend at the meeting. If you do not need to attend the entire meeting, and have decided to present only part of it, inform the chair person in advance.
Consider carefully what makes a successful meeting, and what is likely to make an unsuccessful one.
All parties should know at an early stage in the proceedings if they will be dealing with any confidential issues in a meeting, since this may affect the approach of the participants. All confidential items must be handled appropriately , and confidentiality must always be respected outside the meeting room. If an agenda will contain a mixture of confidential and non-confidential items, ensure that the status of each item is made clear to all of the participants in advance.
D) Reinforcing Objectives
If you are chairing a meeting, start the proceedings by summarizing its aims and objectives, so that all participants can keep them in mind for the duration of the meeting. Remind the participant what decisions must be reached and by when, and what information will be conveyed, and - if they stray form the point - draw their attention to the amount of time that has been allocated to the discussion of each issue. If you are simply an attendee at a meeting, ensure that you are well prepared for through discussion of any issues that particularly concern you.
Your Career Path
Until you have decided upon your aims you cannot decide what sort of meeting you need. Determine them and the length of the meeting, then invite the participants.
1) Define the meeting’s purpose
2) Decide how long it should last
3) Ensure the relevant people attend
Manik Thapar (MBA) http://www.careerpath.cc