The Two Essential Parts of a Successful Meeting
Meetings can be a chore but, they are necessary.
Regardless of what you do for your business, eventually you will have to conduct or be a part of a team meeting. I have attended meetings in multiple school clubs, so my experience is limited. However, if there is one thing I have noticed is that, not all meetings are productive.
After much consideration, I have come to the conclusion that there are two aspects of a meeting that can make it, so no one is wasting their time: an agenda and meeting minutes.
An agenda is your Gandalf, leading you to Mordor.*
When I became the secretary for my fraternity I didn’t have much training, so I had no idea what was expected of me during the first executive meeting. It was a daunting experience, one that doesn’t seem as scary now. I realized however that I would have a significant impact on how our team would be organized very early on when the president of our team asked me to start writing the agendas.
Now first and foremost, I am still debating over whether or not one person should ultimately decide what is on the agenda for any meeting. But, at the end of the day, there needs to be a directed discussion about something. No matter what your team’s overall objectives are, they have to be organized to save time.
I have witnessed meetings that lead to nowhere because we either have too much oversight on important topics that need to be covered or because we didn’t have enough time in the meeting to discuss it. I personally have adopted the Steve Jobs way of conducting meetings: if there is no agenda, please do not waste my time.
Agendas are not the end all be all; there also needs to be some flexibility for discussion on topics not on there if circumstances come to it. However, keep in mind that an agenda should consist of the essential items that need to be addressed by the team to move forward (all other items should be secondary to the team’s goals). An agenda helps meetings go smoothly and saves a tremendous amount of time.
The time that can be best spent doing what is supposed to be discussed during the meeting.
Write minutes. Then read them!
We can discuss what constitutes a successful meeting for hours but, if there is anything I am convinced of is that to keep a team coordinated, it has to be writing meeting minutes and ensuring the whole team reads them after. The importance of well-constructed meeting minutes is underrated. Minutes allow for those team members who couldn’t attend the meeting to stay informed and allow for your team to better organize reports for your customers and the entire staff.
One key factor to a team’s success is communication, and you cannot achieve that if there aren’t any meeting minutes that can be reviewed at any given time. How can you follow up on action items? How can you ensure that everyone is doing their part?
Minutes are not just to keep a record of all team discussions but, are also a good indicator of how productivity over time is cataloged and assessed (in a qualitative manner). One of the secretary’s greatest responsibilities is to ensure the team’s minutes are accurate and well-organized. And meeting minutes can only be useful if people read them!
As an involved teammate, you should never be caught dead in a meeting that doesn’t have an agenda set at least 24 hours ahead of time. Also, you have to make sure that someone is ready to take the minutes for the meeting. Everyone’s time will be wasted otherwise. And then you have to ask yourself, “Why did I even add this to my schedule in the first place?”
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