by Felicia K. Knight
The ability to run a meeting, either in person or via telephone or teleconference is a skill to which many are called but few are chosen. And that leaves the rest of us contemplating pulling the fire alarm or feigning a heart attack. Or both.
How many meetings have you sat through that meandered so far afield from the topic at hand, you wondered if you sat in the wrong room or mixed up the conference code? This kind of meeting is rarely productive and usually breeds resentment and frustration, not to mention confusion. After all, the purpose of a meeting is to move a project forward, not foment mutiny.
Meetings don’t have to be excruciating. They are a necessary component of doing business—any kind of business—but they don’t have to be a necessary evil. These people are your colleagues and collaborators (or clients). Why subject them to hours of PowerPoint hell or endless rehashes of decisions that were made two meetings ago? You want your meetings to generate productivity and creativity. As with anything, you reap what you sow. Be a leader and lead the meeting.
Here are some tips to run a more efficient, creative, and non-coma-inducing meeting:
1. Have an agenda, including who you expect to speak and on what topic.
2. Distribute the agenda a day (or at least several hours) in advance so that people can come prepared.
3. Start the meeting on time. If people are late, they’ll know be punctual next time.
4. Respect other people’s schedules and workload by ending the meeting on time.
5. Assign someone to take notes and create a recap for distribution later.
6. Get to the point and stay on topic.
7. Invite discussion, but keep it relevant and moving forward.
8. Clarify next steps and who’s responsible for them.
9. Remember that it’s okay to have fun.
10. When appropriate, serve ice cream.