Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Checklist for running better meetings.

Post 465 - All meetings require preparation, execution and follow-up. Today, I'll cover some rules dealing with preparation. Tomorrow, I'll address execution and follow-up.

Start by asking yourself:

- What are your goals for the meeting?
Write down, in a sentence or two, what your ideal outcomes will be.

- Should you call this meeting at all?
Often issues or decisions addressed in meetings could be better dealt with by personal contact or executive order. This holds for regularly scheduled meetings as well as those convened to deal with special issues.

- Has everyone got an agenda in advance?
A clear agenda encourages preparation and suggests an order of discussion that will help you achieve your goals. If difficult issues need a thorough exploration, put them first on the agenda. Less controversial issues are best tackled later when everyone is ready to end the meeting.

- Have you touched base with key players first?
Key players don't like to be surprised and can be uncooperative if they feel cornered. Build support for your proposals ahead of time.

- Do participants have information to make informed decisions?
You don't want to waste time during the meeting bringing people up to speed. When everyone has the same information to start with, it's easier to get agreement on actionable decisions.

- Have you anticipated objections?
You don't want to get ambushed on an important point you hadn't thought about before. Be prepared to show why your proposed course of action is superior to other possible alternatives.

- Do you have support from superiors?
Check with higher-ups before the meeting to make sure.

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