Earlier this year, the Secret Service had a bit of a snafu due to some miscommunication about a…well, meeting. Perhaps if they had thought about these 7 tips, things would have gone a bit differently.
1. Create a list of goals.
What do you want to accomplish at this meeting? If you don’t know what you want to accomplish, don’t bother scheduling one.
2. Which questions or discussions will lead to accomplishing those goals?
You can’t just walk into a meeting, slap a goal on a Power Point slide or white board, and hope that everyone has an instant idea. The point of having a meeting is to have access to everyone’s collective brain power. Create at least a few questions to get their brains churning.
3. Create an agenda.
Depending on the nature of the meeting, you might divide up your agenda into topics that need to be discussed, or activities that need to be done. No matter how you decide to organize your meeting, be sure to create a timeline for how long each topic will be given. This will keep everyone on their toes during the meeting and make sure that all necessary items are covered by the end.
4. Email the agenda at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.
Doing this one week in advance is ideal. The minimum is two business days. Emailing the agenda early lets everybody know that you’re organized, have it together and mean business. It also gives attendees time to start thinking about what they’d like to say and perhaps even gather research or examples of ideas that they want to express.
5. Clarify expectations ahead of time.
This should be included in the agenda. Everyone should know what the expected results of the meeting are. If you want attendees to bring specific materials, instruct that in the agenda. The Secret Service really would have benefited from this one.
6. Collect RSVPs.
It’s important to know who will be present and who won’t. If someone can’t make it, they should send their information to the group ahead of time. It should also be made clear to them that they need to study the minutes to learn the tasks and roles for which they will be responsible.
7. Ensure all language needs will be addressed.
As businesses become global, languages used in meetings sometimes expand beyond native English speakers. Be sure you know the primary language of each attendee and ensure that you or they provide interpreters for the meeting itself as well as the meeting minutes to prevent any misunderstandings and miscommunication.
If you implement all of these steps, you will become known for running efficient and productive meetings. People will show up prepared and will get to the point because they know you won’t let meetings drag on endlessly and pointlessly. And everybody loves that guy or gal.
By the way, if you know anyone in the Secret Service, feel free to forward this post to them. The same rules apply in one-on-one situations as well.