In the workplace, a lot of your time will be spent in meetings. It is a fundamental way to generate new ideas, get work done and meet your goals.

Understanding how to create impactful meetings that achieve the outcomes you want will be crucial to your progress at work.

Let's make your meetings count by looking at all the factors you need to consider before, during and after your meetings to ensure your meetings are a success.

Before the meeting, you should…

1. Create a robust agenda and send it on time

Create an agenda and send it at least one week before the meeting date. The more complex the meeting, the more in advance you will need to send the agenda to allow enough time for others to prepare for the meeting. As a reminder of the meeting, a day or two before, resend the agenda with the meeting details example teleconferencing pins, session IDs, etc. Ensure you send it only to the participants of the meeting. Don't crowd the mailbox of those who will not be attending the meeting.

2. Prepare all documentation

Preparation is key for the success of your meetings. Ensure you have all the required documentation and tools for the meeting e.g. reports, presentation slides and prototypes for demonstration if required.

3. Confirm the logistics

Ensure the room is still available and the equipment is working. Consider lighting, temperature, ventilation, noise levels, and adequate seats for everyone. The logistics will have a direct impact on the comfort levels of attendees and their ability to focus during the meeting.

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During the meeting, you should…

4. Thank everyone and confirm the purpose

Thank everyone for committing their time to the meeting and swiftly confirm the purpose of the meeting. This ensures everyone understands the reason for the meeting and the desired outcome.

5. Communicate the rules

Communicate any specific rules that need to be observed during the meeting as it makes it easier to control interruptions during the session, e.g. zero tolerance to talking over another person, dismissing a suggestion without consideration and being disruptive during activities like brainstorming sessions.

6. Practice active listening

In your meetings, listen attentively, avoid personal judgments, summarise the other person's words to ensure their points are correctly understood, confirm understanding and obtain feedback from them. This practice ensures no points are misunderstood which can save time, effort and money.

7. Maintain control of the meeting

During an emotionally charged meeting, there may be some who forget the rules e.g. participants speaking over each other. Remind them of the rules and if points are raised that are not relevant to the meeting, but need to be addressed, then record it for later consideration and refocus the participants to the agenda.

8. Encourage balanced participation

Recognise that some people need encouragement to voice their opinion in a meeting. Create a safe space for all to participate and consider sharing your own experiences and concerns first. This strategy can help diffuse any doubt or tension that others may be feeling.

9. Allow pause time for processing of information and reflection of suggestions

Some people need more time than others to create a picture of what was said that makes sense to them in a meeting. Interject short pauses between each point and slightly longer for each new topic. The length of time you interject will vary depending on the number of questions asked, the dynamics of the group or their level of knowledge about the topic or problem.

10. Provide proper closure

Ensure all decisions, next steps and action points are documented as well as the time and expectation for the next meeting are communicated and agreed upon.

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After the meeting, you should…

11. Communicate the feedback process

If feedback is required, ensure you communicate the process of how and by when this needs to be done. This may be a separate process or part of the process when creating the minutes, as is done in most cases. The feedback process should be agreed and documented during the meeting.

12. Create the minutes

Create, review and distribute the minutes. If your meeting involved external persons to your company, you should circulate the minutes internally first to anyone who contributed. The internal contributors at the meeting will need to agree what you documented was correct. Also, verify if you need approval before distributing the minutes externally. Aim to distribute the minutes within a maximum of one week after the meeting date... the sooner, the better.

The appropriate meeting etiquette rules you should follow for successful meetings are covered in the blog: 10 meeting etiquette rules you must use for successful meetings.

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Everything You Need to Know for Successful Meetings

The Institute for Achievement and Excellence ©