There is no way around them - meetings are one of the most frequently used forms of communication in companies. While email and instant messaging may seem more convenience, meetings offer a face to face exchange of ideas.
Unfortunately, many meetings are inefficient and involve unnecessary time. As interactive collaboration and presentation solutions specialists, we've prepared a few tips for making the most of your meetings.
Get to Know the Agenda
Every meeting should have an agenda.
Agendas range from a few key points to a dossier with a short biography of each participant. A short, superficial agenda is better than none. If you haven’t received an agenda, ask for one. Even a few bullet points is better than walking in blind.
Understand Your Purpose
The agenda gives you the purpose of the meeting. Consider this scenario:
Bob from sales has been invited to a marketing meeting. Bob is in no way a marketer and wonders if he's been invited by mistake. By reviewing the agenda Bob realizes the marketing team is requesting sales input on the new collateral materials being designed. While Bob isn't an expert on pretty pictures, he does know customers respond better to the elevator pitch he uses than the copy on the slick he hands them.
Proper Planning Makes You A Meeting Pro
The agenda has shown Bob his purpose in the meeting and how he needs to prepare. Bob doens't need to write himself a book but he can take a few momentes to jot down key points. The pitches that work best for him and the copy on the slicks that seems to cause the most confusion.
By prepairing Bob makes sure his ideas are heard in the meeting and elminates follow ups to share points he couldn't remember on the fly.
Recognize Your Role
No one should be in a meeting without a reason or role. According to Dick and Emily Axelrod in their book “Let’s Stop Meeting Like This”, each participant of such a meeting falls into one of three categories: leader, contributor or intermediary.
The head of a meeting is the person with the formal authority to arrange the meeting, outline its purpose and ensure participants adhere to the topics at hand. In this regard, the leader should ask: what decisions and actions should be taken as a result of this meeting? Based on these decisions, a common thread for the meeting is defined and it is possible to determine who should participate and therefore to be invited – bringing only the really relevant people together.
As a contributor, you should be prepared to put ideas into the discussion and actively participate in them. A contributor should also bring necessary information into the meeting. If, for example, the sales figures of the fourth quarter are discussed, a contributor should have personal or sales figures for his area and notes from Q4 at hand. Our buddy Bob in the scenario above is a contributor.
The intermediaries have the task of helping the group to fulfill its purpose. Their role is similar to that of the contributors, but they do not always contribute directly to the debate, but drive the whole discussion forward, acting in a subordinate leadership position within the meeting. They pay attention to the time or explain misunderstandings and issues at hand. Sometimes an intermediary will only take part in the meeting by ensuring that everyone has a chance to speak, or ensures that the discussion is not derailed.
Add Pizzazz to Your Presentation
Meetings become more interactive and interesting when content is presented not only presented verbally, but visually.
Everyone interprets information differently, adding visuals helps expedite understanding what's beign said so others can provide quality feedback and decision makers can be informed before voting "yes" or "no".
Data presented in a graphical manner (pie charts, bar graphs, statistical maps, histograms, etc.) is not only more interesting to consume, it also is easier for many to understand.
By having a clear agenda, understanding your purpose, preparing for it and presenting with pizzazz, you too can banish never-ending meetings where nothing gets done.