Communication is key in any business!
We're often managing meetings with people in various locations and time zones, both internal and external resources. Each employee's communication manner directly impacts the image of both the employee and the company. Below are communication guidelines to increase meeting effectiveness whether your meeting is in-person or virtual.
If you're the organizer/facilitator
If you're an attendee
- Before rounding up the troops, make sure the time arranged is good for everyone. A quick call or email makes sure the date and time works for the required participants. Otherwise you're wasting time for the people that do get together, then realize key resources are missing. Try not to schedule the call/meeting outside normal business hours or during lunch unless confirmed with the participants.
- Provide an agenda, or at a minimum, a list of discussion topics in advance.
- This is the most important point! Setting up a meeting with no plan is a waste of everyone’s time. The group ends up spending the first part of the meeting getting organized.
- Allowing team members time to prepare makes the meeting more productive.
- Open the meeting (call, GoToMeeting, Skype Meeting) a few minutes early if possible. Don't be late! Welcome all attendees as they join.
- Just before or during the start of the meeting, monitor emails in case some attendees are running late or have a technical problem connecting in.
- Take a roll call up front to confirm the list of attendees. On a phone meeting, this is a prime opportunity to start learning voices if you're going to be in regular communication with the group. Learning to recognize voices is a good way to help make everyone feel part of the team if everyone is in separate locations.
- Slow down to speak clearly. This is especially important when holding discussions with an international team. Keep in mind the attendees may be mentally translating the discussion to absorb the information.
- Be aware of the time.
- Speak up to table a discussion topic if it's consuming too much time.
- If there's more to discuss as the meeting end time approaches, ask permission to continue. If extending the meeting isn’t possible, arrange a date and time for a separate follow up meeting.
- Reserve the last few minutes of the meeting to summarize the discussion, go over action items, and review any needed next steps.
- Keep the meeting focused on the relevant information. Present either a "clean" desktop (GoToMeeting lingo) or just the application you're sharing.
- If someone speaks up to take responsibility for an action item, be sure to document the responsible party and agree on a delivery date.
- When speaking on a call, identify yourself unless it's very obvious who is speaking (for example: This is Nancy speaking…can you send me a sample of that report?). On some calls it's difficult to distinguish among various voices in the room.
- Afterward, follow up as soon as you can with meeting minutes and action items.
Attendees have responsibilities as well to ensure meeting effectiveness.
- Prepare in advance and be knowledgeable on the topic.
- Arrive a few minutes early or on-time.
- Participate! But try to only have one person speaking at a time.
- Identify yourself when speaking.
- If there's a speakerphone in the room, turn your head in the direction of the speakerphone, speak at an appropriate volume, and speak clearly.
- Announce to the group if you need to have a sidebar discussion. Announce when you've concluded the sidebar.
- After the meeting:
- Review the meeting notes published!
- Make sure nothing was missed and provide feedback if necessary.
- Check for action items that you can assist with or that are assigned to you.
Meetings are an essential part of daily business and successful project execution. Make them productive and beneficial for all involved by following the guidelines above.
What rules or tips does your team follow to ensure meeting effectiveness?
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