Meeting management is a set of skills that form part of the skill set of every successful manager. Meeting management is an ability to manage meetings, in a timely manner, efficiently and effectively. We all have been to meetings that were a total waste of time. This could have been due to numerous reasons like misinformed members, incorrect members or unserious members.
It is very important to ensure that the right members are invited to meetings, who have prior information on the purpose and agenda of the meeting, including the timeframe to be spent on each point of the agenda.
Before communicating the purpose or agenda of the meeting, it is important to select the right members for the meeting. It is not a good idea to invite each person who feels to be the right person for the meeting; it is also not a good idea to invite very few people. Several people should be consulted on the right participants for meetings.
This way, there is a better chance of inviting the right people. Alternatively, if the meeting requires people from various departments, the heads of these departments can be contacted to get their opinion on who would be the best person from their department for the meeting.
Once the selection is finalized, it is an important part of meeting management to prepare a purpose of the meeting and a detailed agenda. The purpose should not be too long, but, at the same time, should ensure that everyone knows why they have been invited to the meeting.
The agenda will be a list of the items that are to be discussed in the meeting. An agenda should be prepared along with key, if not all, members of the meeting to decide on how to reach to the final decision. Each item on the agenda can be broken down into sub-parts to keep the meeting crisp, clear and concise. It is also advised to assign a certain amount of time against each item on the agenda and the person responsible for that item, to keep the meeting more focused.
The duration will limit the amount of time spent on an item and will push the person responsible to be concise and to the point. If, however, setting a timeframe against each item is not possible, then a starting and ending time should, at least, be decided from the beginning.
Meeting management is not only about managing time for one’s self, but also making sure that other members are fully equipped and prepared for the meeting too. Although calling each person to invite him for the meeting, and explaining the agenda may be a long and time-consuming process, it will ensure that everyone is fully aware of the details. There will be no chances of issues arising from communication barrier. Otherwise, online meeting invitations, with automatic reminders, can be set to communicate the details of the meeting.
A person committed to meeting management should always start meetings on time. Those who arrive on time do not take waiting for latecomers positively. Once a person arrives late, it is also not a good idea to go back to the beginning to bring that person on the same page. This would waste the time of those who arrived on time, and may discourage them from arriving on time for future meetings. Start the meeting by welcoming participants and expressing appreciation, followed by outlining the agenda.
The agenda should not be kept very strict, and should be allowed to change, as per the needs of the time. It is also important to clarify the roles of each participant in the meeting, before beginning. The main purpose of meeting management is to manage time effectively. Therefore, assigning the management of time of each task to a participant is a good idea. If an item on the agenda requires more time than anticipated, then consensus of the group is important before moving on.
Towards the conclusion of the meeting, it is important that the meeting organizer review the items on the agenda, repeating the actions agreed, timeframe decided and the persons responsible. Before leaving the meeting, the time for the next meeting (if any) should be finalized, and commitment registered. Regular updates should be encouraged so that members are aware of the developments on the agreed actions between meetings.
In senior-level meetings, normally, a secretary would be assigned the task of keeping minutes of meetings. Otherwise, a participant can jot down the minutes in detail against the agreed agenda of the meeting. Within a day, the minutes of the meetings should be distributed to all participants and anyone who might be affected by the outcome of the meeting. If anyone feels there has been a mistake in any of the items of the minutes, he should reply and raise a red flag as soon as possible, to avoid any incorrect action from taking place.
There may be variations in the steps needed for meeting management. However, the overall idea would be same. Following these, or similar, steps will develop a meeting management skill in every person.