Organising More Effective Meetings

Effective meetings save time and money. Meetings are the means by which things happen in organisations but they can be a drain on resources. Finding ways to reduce the amount of time your boss spends at meetings should be a priority for a Personal Assistant, particularly if her diary is full of back to back meetings.

Early Distribution of Papers – Distributing meeting papers early will add to the effectiveness of a meeting, as it gives participants sufficient time to read and digest the issues. It also serves as a reminder to complete any tasks assigned as action points.

Is the Meeting Necessary? - If your boss is very busy, make enquiries before planning the meeting to determine if the meeting is really necessary. If participants have to travel quite a distance to attend, make sure it is worth their while. If you discover that there is little to report, consider postponing the meeting; for last minute cancellations, be sure to notify participants by phone in addition to sending a meeting cancellation.

Reduce Timing - Another strategy for planning effective meetings is to reduce the length of meetings by 10 or 15 minutes. Go through the boss’s diary, and where appropriate, see if you can change the 1 hour meetings to 50 minute meetings. Check with the main players to make sure this is acceptable. This will free up time in the boss's diary and increase meeting room availability.

Virtual Meetings - If a number of participants have to travel great distances to attend a face-to-face meeting, you could use conference call services or consider having a web meeting or videoconference. This is more cost effective and less stressful for participants. You should also try alternating meetings so that 1 in 4 weekly/monthly meetings is held via videoconference, web meeting or using conference calling services.

Timed Agendas - Meetings are often conducted with a loose agenda, or none at all. But agendas are essential for focusing the discussion on the right issues. Productive planning and meeting management involves doing away with loose agendas. A timed agenda is an invaluable tool for getting to the heart of the issue within an allotted time. This type of agenda will reduce the length of the meeting without compromising the discussion.

Key Players - Make sure all the right people can attend the meeting. It is essential that key people attend to progress the discussion, make decisions and commit resources.

Vary the Meeting Venue - Relocate the meeting to other branches every once in a while, so that participants take turns travelling.

Ways to avoid postponing - If you receive a last minute decline notification from a key attendee, find out if he/she can dial in. If so, turn the meeting into a teleconference using conference calling services. A videoconference would be a better option, but at short notice it could prove difficult to organise. Alternatively, ask the participant to nominate a representative who can make decisions and commit resources on their behalf.

Planning Checklist - Use a Checklist to plan your meetings. Click here to download a Meeting Planning Checklist.


Tips for Organising Your Boss
For tips and ideas to help you organise yourself and your boss, see Organise Your Boss.


Go to More Tips for Effective Meetings

Go to how to write minutes

Other Meetings Issues

Other Planning Checklists

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