Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Eightfold Path to a Successful Meeting

Harvard Business School Article

Do you have to plan meetings? Here are tips to make them successful from Roger Mosvick and Robert Nelson, authors of We've Got to Stop Meeting Like This! This article has been reprinted from the Harvard Management Update.

The Eightfold Path to a Successful Meeting

Tips on meeting preparation

Tip 1

Write down the meeting purpose and general objectives, ideally in a single sentence. Make it as specific as possible and think in terms of goals. For example: 'To decide on a marketing plan and determine individual responsibilities, to be completed by July 1.'

Tip 2

Decide who should chair the meeting and who should participate. 'The smallest size capable of performing the task effectively' is the ideal size. All those without direct responsibility for the meeting topic, without information about it, or without responsibility for implementing the group's decision should be excluded.

Tip 3

Determine the best meeting format: consultation, recommendation, or delegation. The meeting chairperson should adjust his or her leadership style to conform.

Tip 4

Brief participants ahead of time, telling each why he or she was asked to attend, what he or she should be prepared to present, and the overall anticipated outcome.

Tip 5

Establish the time, place, and duration of the meeting. Use a conference room without a phone to avoid disruption. Schedule two hours at most; studies have shown that most people's efficiency diminishes greatly after that length of time.

Tip 6

Distribute an agenda to all participants in advance. Limit the agenda to four or five main points. List subtopics and allocated time to keep the meeting focused. Label the agenda as 'tentative' and ask for changes and additions at the start of the meeting so that the group can agree on discussion topics before it dives into problem solving.

Tip 7

Designate a willing note-taker. It shouldn't be the chairperson, who already has enough to do. The note-taker should condense the meeting notes into a one-page memo.

Tip 8

Assign people to action items. The meeting planner should do this before the meeting, if possible. Include the assignments in the meeting minutes.


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