Organizing and managing the perfect working meeting can be an excellent way to make decisions, collect ideas or inspire your team. In addition to this, it is also an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your organizational, motivation, collaboration and leadership skills. However, sometimes we do not treat these working meetings with the discipline and love they deserve, so a potential “perfect working meeting” becomes something else. Through this post, I am going to show you how big Business Schools like Harvard Business School teach future leaders to lead with confidence, make their projects move forward and manage any kind of conflict that appears during a meeting at work.
Preparing the perfect working meeting
How to prepare an effective agenda, who to invite, how to communicate the invitation for people to come, how to ensure that the guests of the meeting are well prepared, or how to lead and delegate during the meeting are some of the most important points to prepare any type of work meeting, in order to succeed.
Purpose of the working meeting
We must be as clear as possible when defining the reason for our meeting. This can be a working meeting focused on brainstorming, decision making, as well as a time to inform the team of the latest achievements made by the company. Defining the reason or objective of our working meeting will be crucial for the rest of our planning process.
Preparing the agenda
It is time to establish a list of points to discuss during the working meeting: a part of brainstorming, sharing, commenting on certain problems or a presentation of new information.
Once we have decided the points to discuss, it is time to assign a duration to each one. In addition, let’s think about reserving half an hour for unforeseen events, special events.
It is time to prepare the sequence to follow. To do this, we will take into account a series of tips to make our meeting an effective and efficient working meeting for all attendees:
- If we have a very busy agenda, consider starting with simple topics and then gaining in complexity.
- Separate the issues that involve sharing information that will serve to solve problems, make decisions or as a brainstorm.
- Look for a relationship between issues. There is always a certain connection between topics that will help us to create a more logical flow between topics to be discussed.
- Divide the most complex issues into parts that are easier to manage.
- For smaller working meetings, the agenda could disappear. However, in large-scale meetings, the better structured the more effective the meeting will be.
- During long meetings (for example, half-a-day meetings), bring the most complicated issues to times when participants can show more attention.
Finally, we must identify the correct attendees for the working meeting. It is not a matter of inviting a crowd, but only those people for whom this meeting is useful. In this way, we will ensure that everyone participates in the meeting and that it will not be necessary to repeat separately what is communicated in the meeting. Therefore, for a working meeting to be effective, we will have to have exclusively the right people in the room, and only the right people.
Checklist to prepare an effective working meeting
- Have you identified the purpose of the meeting?
- Have you made sure you need a meeting?
- Do you have a previous agenda?
- Have you selected the right participants and assigned roles?
- Where will the meeting take place?
- Once you have chosen the place, have you confirmed that there is availability?
- Have you sent an invitation to the attendees indicating when and where the meeting will take place?
- Have you distributed a preliminary agenda to all the attendees?
- Do the participants have the elements they need to prepare before the meeting?
- Have you met in person with those attendees you see fit to stay?
- What is the decision-making process that will take place during the meeting?
- Are you sure you will have all the necessary equipment during the meeting?
- Have you finalized the agenda? and distributed among all participants?
- Have you made sure that all the attendees will attend the meeting and that they know their roles?
- Are you ready?
Lead your meetings
Even if you have prepared the meeting carefully, do not reach it with just the right time. Remember that as the leader of the meeting, you are expected to develop different roles. It is important that you start the working meeting at the time set on the agenda. People who have not arrived will be incorporated. Surely they will not be late again next time when they see that they have missed some important point of the meeting.
Starting the working meeting
Once you start the meeting, make a brief introduction to make sure that the attendees are aware of the agenda and the objectives they are pursuing. It is also important to make a brief introduction of the project if necessary. It is a good idea, in case the participants don’t know each other, that they introduce themselves one by one. When necessary, mark the rules to follow during the work meeting.
It is time to get going and talk about each of the points presented in the agenda of the day. In case some point gets stuck by some conversation between participants, you should try to adjust to the agenda. Make sure you notice the change from one point to another on the agenda. It is important that all points of view are addressed and that there is feedback from the participants.
What about multitasking people? A perfect working meeting should be treated seriously. That is why it should be clear that emails are not reviewed, picking up the phone is not allowed, as well as surfing the internet or sending text messages with the mobile phone. As a leader, you should make it clear that all these issues are to be discussed after the meeting.
To end the meeting, try to summarize the session that has taken place. Be sure to remember the important points that have been discussed, decisions that have been made and the next steps. In the case of actions to be taken, it should be clear who is responsible for taking the action and when it is required to comply. Finally, throw a motivating message to the group.
The day after: follow-up notes
And after the working meeting, there is no time for rest. It is time to prepare what is called “follow-up notes” or notes to follow after the meeting. Next, I list a series of points as a checklist:
- Write all “follow-up notes” in a summarized way, including the what, who and when columns
- Distribute them among all the people who participated in the meeting
- Make sure to reflect on your calendar those important days discussed during the working meeting and make sure that the objectives to be met before that day are achieved.
- Distribute these notes to other parties involved, even if they have not participated in the meeting.
- Meet with the most important attendees to achieve the objectives, in order to ensure that they have understood each of the points discussed.
- Make a small assessment of yourself as a leader
- Assess the points that we have achieved as “outcomes” after the meeting
- Manage the criticisms and create a list of lessons learned
- Analyze those points to improve previous to next working meeting