Meetings can end up taking so much of your ‘working’ day. So, if you are involved in any kind of meeting you need to ensure that you get real value from it. I personally like the acronym N.A.T.O, which stands for “No Action Talking Only”. NATOs should be avoided at all costs.
Here are some top tips from my corporate survival days to ensure they were as productive as possible.
1. Have an agenda
- Objectives need to be stated along with overall intent for the meeting – Information / Action / Decision
- It is within your rights to decline the meeting if a clear agenda is not supplied
- Pre-reads are sent out 24 hours in advance if necessary/possible
- Meeting organiser is responsible for the agenda and is to chair if not otherwise stated
- A minute taker should also be agreed at the beginning and minutes captured and shared as quickly as possible afterwards
- Meeting will start promptly, in case of emergency non-attendance by the chair / organiser – deputy will start the meeting
- 5 minutes at the end of every meeting for general feedback on meeting success/outcomes/attendance needs
- Actions need to be shared/sent out promptly following the meeting
- Location needs to be distributed 24 hours prior to the meeting so you can plan getting there on time
2. Meeting timings
- Meetings should be no longer than necessary
- Any meetings of an hour or longer should end 5 minutes before the allotted hour so everyone is able to make their next meeting on time/prep
- To help everyone ensure any last minute items are tackled ahead of the weekend and necessary prep is made for the following week it is proposed that Friday’s will be meeting free
- Meetings may move, but commitment needs to be made not to move them unnecessarily
- Meeting organisers to cancel/reschedule 24 hours in advance if they are unable to attend
- Don’t accept meetings you are unable to attend – 24 hours’ notice also required
- Conference calls will remain open for dial in within 10 minutes of the start time unless otherwise stated
3. Use of Laptops/tablets/phablets and phones
- No typing in meetings, laptops are used but only to demonstrate / show something – or for the person who is writing up the actions
- Lunchtime meetings are to be avoided where possible!
- If they have to happen – at least provide lunch OR give permission for attendees to bring theirs
These guidelines should help. If you ever get any resistance, always ask them to quickly calculate how much it has cost to have all those people in that meeting room and what was the value of the meeting. e.g. 5 execs, 2 managers and a director could cost about £200 to £500 per hour. And, an all day meeting can get very expensive and de-moralising!