As project managers and business analysts, you are undoubtedly familiar with the misery of poorly planned and poorly run meetings. It’s a long list of things that drive meeting madness: unclear purpose, wrong people in attendance, lack of ground rules, inadequate preparation, poor time management, etc.
Thought given to key elements of the meeting ahead of time can make for a more effective meeting. Communication of those things insures that everyone arrives at the meeting with a shared understanding of why they are there and what they need to accomplish.
It’s fairly common practice, for example, to include an agenda in a meeting invitation. Topics to be covered and time allotted for each topic help to set expectations and keep people on track during the meeting. Try adding two other things to your meeting invitations to take your meeting preparedness to the next level.
Specifically, when sending an invitation to a meeting in Outlook or whatever tool you use, specify two things:
Why are you asking for these people’s time? What is the purpose of this get together? Is it to brainstorm ideas for the new marketing campaign? Prioritize software requirements for the new accounting application? Resolve a conflict regarding the new patient intake process? Make it absolutely clear as to what it is that needs to be achieved during the session.
What is the desired outcome of the meeting? What do the attendees need to walk out with at the end of the meeting? Is it a list of ideas for the new marketing campaign? Is it a list of prioritized requirements for the new accounting application? Is it a workflow diagram for the new patient intake process along with signatures for approval from all attendees? Whatever it is, be as specific as possible.
This is not particularly fun to do when you are the one sending the invitation. It’s a pain to have to think specifically about the objective and what you need out of a meeting. It’s a lot easier to just invite people who seem like logical attendees and then flush out the details later.
But this practice forces the sender to give thought to whose names go in that To: box. And that’s a beautiful thing when you’re on the receiving end!
And, importantly, ending meetings is a lot easier and cleaner because we know when we’re done since we’ve named what it is we need!
I’d love to hear about your meeting experiences and what approaches work for you.