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Top 10 Hacks to Perfect Your Meeting Plan

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January 28, 2022
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5 minutes
Gizela has almost two decades of experience within the Digital sphere and eagerly awaits the day she can be cloned so she can finally get everything on her daily to-do list done

Sometimes business seems marked with one tedious meeting after another - whether meeting with clients or colleagues. In fact, there are times where it feels like we’re even having meetings about having meetings and not much is getting resolved. So how do we ensure that we keep meetings effective and that no-one ends up wasting their time and losing valuable work hours inside a boardroom? We delve into the top 10 tried and tested tips and tricks of the consulting trade of how to organize meetings and run them effectively.

1. Have a meeting plan

It is important to not go into a meeting blind. To avoid people not being prepared or have them get side-tracked you should have a clear guide as to what is expected from the meeting. Send out an ATA (Agenda, Time limits, Action points before meeting with clients or colleagues. An agenda is the best way to organize meetings. This gives everyone a clear outline of the topics and subjects that will be discussed at the meeting and who will be responsible for each.

Time limits are another important factor. In order to keep everyone focused and respectful of one another’s time it’s crucial to assign a set time per topic/subject. Action points are what will lift morale and productivity alike. By detailing the desired outcomes and those responsible for the task(s), no one will feel like the meeting has essentially accomplished nothing. It will definitely evoke a feeling of accountability in those assigned the specific deliverable/objective.

To affirm this feeling of productivity and accomplishment, it’s also imperative to send out an updated ATA with all the outcomes of the meeting shortly after the meeting has ended.

“A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.” - Unknown

2. Set ground rules

You can easily keep them as part of a meeting plan or agenda template. It should outline a few basic ground rules in terms of prepping for as well as conducting the meeting. These ground rules can include things such as protocol for running late, leaving early or not attending, mobile phone etiquette, and testing internet connectivity before the meeting starts (if it’s an online meeting). Ground rules will also vary between an internal meeting and a meeting with clients.

3. Avoid the blame game

Nothing can derail a meeting plan and be less productive than when people start shifting blame. A productive meeting is marked by valuable discussions, improvements and finding solutions. Shoving others underneath the bus to avoid accountability is not only unprofessional in a business meeting setting, but will accomplish absolutely nothing.

4. Don’t be afraid to share the challenges

Meetings (especially those with upper management) can often turn into a bit of an ego parade. This doesn’t help anybody. Especially not you as a consultant is charged with making improvements to the company’s processes and performance. You should place focus on how beneficial sharing challenges can be, especially in a room full of experienced and highly skilled professionals. They will surely be able to brainstorm a solution.

5. Be picky

Another must regarding how to organize meetings, is to be incredibly selective when it comes to who you invite to the meeting. Except for the fact that most employees already feel exhausted at the mere thought of all the meetings they have to attend on a daily basis, your time as consultant is also valuable and limited. Imagine a meeting is X amount of minutes long and input needs to be considered by all involved. In this case it’s nearly impossible to give everyone the sufficient time and focus needed since you will have to divide the meeting time between 30 attendees. You need to know exactly who you NEED at the meeting and WHY. If you can’t really answer why, just go ahead and remove them off that meeting invite list.

6. Decide who pulls the trigger

Another aspect that can interfere with a meeting plan is when there are no clear boundaries between opinions and decisions. There can only be one chef in the kitchen. Although the entire team’s input is valued and taken aboard. Otherwise the entire assembly will run aground. Nobody has the time to spend hours debating whether or not to do something. Each is given adequate time to make their case and then the designated “captain” must be responsible for making the final call.

7. Make sure it’s a meeting and not a monologue

Very few people can stay alert and engaged while listening to something they lost interest in after the first 30 minutes. That’s why you should try to lay out the meeting plan in such a way that a number of people make contributions. So that discussion is encouraged where applicable. You’re not hosting a tea party, but you’re definitely not performing a one-man-show either.

8. Never underestimate the motivation that comes with incentives

Which would you prefer? An invite to a boardroom meeting or an invite to a boardroom meeting with beverages and snacks? Or maybe having a meeting at a venue, away from the office? It seems counterintuitive, but things that make a meeting more fun and enjoyable, actually increases focus and boosts productivity.

9. Get the timing right

There’s much more to picking a meeting time than just ensuring that there are no schedule clashes. Did you know that science has actually proven that the best time to schedule meetings is between 10 am to 12 pm? It’s because most are still fairly energized at that time of the morning and they’ve had the opportunity to prepare for the day and get settled in.

10. Review

It is important to review your meetings, meeting plan and their results. If something isn’t working and is making meetings less effective and productive, then change it!

You are still not quite sure whether you’ve got what it takes to take charge of a meeting and ensure that it is productive? Or do you have other consulting concerns that you need to address? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Consultport Academy where you can find all kinds of helpful resources from industry experts.