We have all sat in one of those meetings. The meeting where you have to pinch yourself to keep awake. The meeting which takes three hours from your day and you are no wiser at the end than you were at the beginning.
It doesn’t have to be like that though. Meetings can be very useful. If they have a purpose, are tightly controlled and ruthlessly keep to the agenda. You do have an agenda don’t you? You really should. And everyone needs to know about it. It can’t just be in your head. People need to know what is going to be discussed so that they can arrive properly prepared to make the most of the meeting time.
Adding a time allocation to each agenda item to guide people as to how much time they have available for each discussion item can be really helpful in keeping meetings strictly within the timescale set for them. The chairperson usually sets the timings, although they may be guided by the individuals raising the items. For example, someone might be presenting a new process for the company and their time slot will be dictated by the length of their presentation.
The agenda needs to be sent out by the administrator or minute-taker in plenty of time to allow delegates to prepare properly and arrive at the meeting with the correct information to share. If you have lots of supporting papers, the agenda and papers must go out about a week ahead of the meeting.
Sometimes you will need to invite a person who has specialist expertise. If they are only needed to discuss one agenda item, why not consider placing the item first on the agenda and allowing the person to leave after they have presented? Or just before the coffee break section so that they can leave during the break.
Any Other Business
If you are going to keep the Any Other Business section on the agenda then this part should be particularly tightly controlled by the Chairperson.
This section of the meeting is often abused by delegates who want to raise issues and grievances that would be better dealt with outside the confines of the meeting.
The purpose of Any Other Business is to cover items which arose in the time period between the agenda being sent out and the meeting happening. Usually, this would be urgent issues or matters that arose which have a direct bearing on one of the items already on the agenda.
One option for keeping the Any Other Business section on the agenda but still ensuring that it remains under strict control is to add an agenda point entitled Proposals for Any Other Business at the start of the meeting, just after the apologies section. This allows the Chairman to ask whether anyone will wish to raise items in Any Other Business. Only items raised during this section of the meeting can then be discussed during Any Other Business itself. The Chairperson can then veto the raising of issues that won’t add to the meeting aims. It also means that everyone can work out how long the Any Other Business section might take, consider points they might wish to raise during the discussion and feel confident that the meeting will finish on time and not drag on and on.
Administration support can really add value to a meeting. A professional administrator will not only manage and efficiently circulate the agenda, but also manage attendance and assist the Chairperson in keeping the meeting on track by reminding them of timings, asking for clarification of action points and accurately recording all the details necessary to allow delegates to recall and complete their actions effectively during the time following the meeting.
If you are looking for professional support to ensure your meetings stay on track and really deliver value, you can contact me here to discuss your requirements.
If you are looking for further support with running an effective meeting, this blog post should be useful.