The learner will:
Understand the arrangements and actions required for planning and organizing meetings
Be able to prepare for a meeting
How to follow up a meeting
Generally, meetings move group actions forward. We call this a task focus. To do this, participants do two things in meetings:
They present information to others.
They collaborate - review, evaluate, discuss, problem-solve, decide - with each other. This is appropriate and positive behavior to display.
People also meet for social reasons:
The need to belong and to network
The need to achieve and make an impact.
A desire to communicate, build and share a common reality.
In planning a meeting, remember that for the task needs to be met, the social needs must be met and for the social needs to be met, the task needs must be met. The meeting content will address task needs while the meeting process attends to social needs. And, be assured, paying attention to the process ensures that tasks get done!
Be clear about the meeting's objective. Why is this important? If participants can't articulate the clear purpose of a meeting, they will make up their own. If this happens, your meeting will wander in as many directions as there are participants.
Create a solid agenda. An agenda is an outline of things to be discussed at the meeting, along with a time budget for each item. To create your agenda, first look to the meeting objective, since your agenda is a path to achieving it. Then look to the participants since they will also have ideas about what is important. There are two important tips about the agenda:
Prioritise agenda items in terms of importance to most participants.
Assign realistic amounts of time to each agenda item.
Prepare in advance. Take the time to prepare for the meeting. This may take only a few minutes to collect your thoughts and jot them down or it may take hours for a formal presentation. But advance preparation will allow the meeting to move forward smoothly, eliminating wasted time and the impression that the meeting was unproductive.
Who will participate? On a small project team or task force, it will be easy to determine who should participate in meetings. These questions provide a useful filter for choosing participants:
Whose input do we need?
Who's needed to make a decision?
Whose buy-in do we need to move forward?
Answer these questions and you'll know who needs to be there. Doing so may also eliminate a lot of waste – of colleagues’ time and unnecessary discussions.
Some helpful agreements include:
Start and end meetings on time.
Hold one conversation at a time.
Honour different points of view
Speak openly and honestly.
A simple, but useful structure for a meeting is: WASP
Welcome, Say, Ask, Part
The best way to create commitment to and participation in meetings is to be clear about why you'll be meeting. Involve as many potential attendees as possible in planning either the content or the process of the meeting.
Before the meeting be sure to consider the following:
Time and place
Preparation of materials
List of audio/visual equipment available to presenters
Requests for any special needs
After the Meeting and Follow-up Actions
Capturing and reporting key outcomes of the meeting are critical for follow-up activities. At a minimum, be sure to capture these items in your meeting notes:
Once the meeting has concluded, arrange for the recorder's notes to be posted or distributed to all participants. Post-meeting communication provides form and closure both to participants' contributions and their social needs. A lack of clarity in meeting notes can drag unfinished business to the forefront of your next meeting and unnecessarily slow the group's progress towards its long-range goals. If recorded are sent out as a running checklist, all relevant people can see and/or access this. This will help with preparing the next meeting's agenda, including providing a summary of events at the next meeting. And most importantly, it ensures that things are getting done and that everyone is aware of what they are responsible for.
All meeting documents including the agenda, minutes and supporting documents should be kept together and archived.
These records can be checked when questions arise about past decisions or actions. It is discouraging to committee or group members to rehash prior discussions or decisions because of poor record keeping.
Tending to both the content and process aspects of your meetings will go a long way toward making them more effective and productive.
Using the information above, identify a meeting you can go to with and see which roles you observe during the meeting or discussion. Use meetings outside of work if you don’t have work-based examples.
What roles could you identify?
What behaviours did each of those roles display?
Use WASP to prepare for a meeting:
Welcome: How will you greet the person?
Ask: What information do you need? What will they ask for in return?
Say: Discuss joint needs and agree any actions, deadlines and responsibilities
Part: End the meeting and discuss if there is a need to book a follow-up by phone or face-to-face. Who will take responsibility for what actions?
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