Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What MAKES a Meeting?

     There are many factors that go into meetings that drive how effective they are or not; I'm going to give my two biggest factors and state why I think each is important, but if you have one I missed, add it in the comments with some support for that item being important...

     The first, and to me, one of the most important parts of a meeting is background.  By this I mean a couple of different things such as preparation, understanding of the concepts and goals, and understanding the true purpose of the meeting.  They all go hand in hand for the most part, in that you need to understand the purpose of the meeting to prepare and part of preparation is understanding the concepts and goals.

   Without background, time is wasted in the meeting trying to get everyone on the same page, people don't understand the context of the issue at hand, or they may not even know what the issue is at all.  I've been in all too many meetings where more time was spent catching people up and explaining issues than the actual solving of the issue(s).

     A second important item is time management and specificity.  Whether it is allowing enough time or making sure not to take too much time on every detail, the timing must be right or you start to lose peoples' attention.  It's obvious that you would want to leave enough time to go through all of the issues. However, what I see as being more important is keeping everyone's attention, and this is only done when everyone is involved in the issues at hand AND to the same degree of depth.  If everyone is involved as the discussion progresses but then discussion turns down a specific path and some cannot contribute, then that is a waste of their time.  So what do you do? You allow that item to become a sidebar for another meeting where you aren't wasting the other peoples' time so that your meeting can return to its schedule and its proper focus.

     Like I said in the beginning, there are many important factors... What are the most important ones in your opinion? Do you agree with mine or have other thoughts?