On the Agenda: Planning Effective Meetings

It amazes me how often you can walk into a meeting and find the vast majority of people unprepared, uninformed, and vastly overwhelmed.

People are called in to communicate the guts of a major event and can often barely tell you the name of the event or when it’s going to take place.

Worse than that, however, are the times where a meeting degrade into a festering breeding ground for one of the worst infection that can live in an organization these days… groupthink. I could spend hours talking about the killing power of planning and idea-casting within the environment of an opinionated, under-qualified, misinformed (or uninformed), and ineffective group of people…

How can we avoid these common pitfalls to having a productive and effective meeting that informs, clarifies, and defines the objective? Here are a few things we can do to make sure our meetings are powerhouses of decision making and goal setting awesomeness!

Have A Concise Meeting Agenda

Most meetings are de-railed by unplanned interruptions that lead to rabbit trails that take over the entire subject matter of a meeting. These unplanned interruptions have no limits set within the meetings limits, and are most often “off-the-cuff” concepts that leave room for the groupthink to rear it’s ugly head. We can overcome this by clearly setting and communicating the agenda prior to the meeting, and then by enforcing the agenda during the meeting. When an interruption occurs, we can suggest that it be added to the following week’s agenda so that it can be better planned for discussion. Having a concise and clear agenda keeps everyone on topic and helps manage the meetings time and limitations.

Have Clear Meeting Roles

Notify everyone who is covering a topic or needs to have speaking points prepared prior to the meeting. If someone is covering a topic let them know ahead of time and give them a clear expectation that they need to be prepared to cover x, y, and z.

This helps keep the meeting informative, yet brief, but also helps build confidence in leaders and their teams when they have the appearance of being “on their game”.

Stay Positive

Unless absolutely necessary, try to keep meeting positive and forward-thinking. It’s important to address failures, errors, or miscalculations as long as it’s done in a positive environment. Don’t focus on the inventory of missteps or exploring “what-ifs”.

Focus on solutions for potential future problems which your team could encounter next time. Explore the solutions from a positive perspective of correction, not blame. I often try never to bring up a problem without having a potential solution to consider as well.

Essential Personnel

It’s not necessary to have everyone in every meeting. To save time and energy, only invite personnel who are essential to the subject to the meeting. It avoids hang ups in time and communication.

It’s also much easier to invite someone to a meeting than to ask someone to leave. If you’re exploring multiple items in a meeting that require one or two additional people for a single topic, consider scheduling the meeting so that they can be invited in for the topics they need to be involved with.

These tips and tricks could help to keep your next meeting on-topic and productive. Have any other tips? I’d love to hear them!

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Director of Marketing at Olive Baptist Church | Freelance Content Creator, Strategist, Photographer, Designer | I love connecting with clients and creatives!