In a perfect world, staging a meeting is to simply inform the persons whom you’re interested in meeting with and they just show up. You say what you have to say; they say what they have to say and every leaves happy.
In the real world however, arranging a meeting can reach complexity levels rivalling rocket science sophistication. Here are five tips to help you achieve success in arranging that critical meeting.
The more autonomy that one has on the job, the greater the length of advanced notification that must be given.
Send Agenda Ahead
This depends on whether or not the meeting will be a session to pass on information. If you’re just going to pass on information, the agenda may be given out at the meeting. If, however, it is a planning meeting, then to benefit maximally from all persons in attendance, early access to the agenda is most helpful.
Clearly Articulate Discussion Points
You run a serious risk of spending an entire meeting discussing around a subject, trying to zero in on what really needs to be discussed; you therefore leave the meeting fruitless. As the convenor of the meeting you need to know what the problem(s) is(are) and what specific decisions need to be made.
Convene a Meeting Only When Necessary
Remember the story, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf?” If you develop a reputation of hosting “pointless” meetings, people will eventually start ignoring you (as long as they are able to). The day may come when you really need that meeting, but everyone is “busy.” Make sure that everyone who is asked to sit in a meeting does have something to contribute. And of course you must allow each attendee to make a contribution.
Anticipate Those “Excuses and Emergencies”
For various reasons some persons are only interested in attending meetings that they convene or only those that would invite the attention of one who has the authority to dis-employ them if they were to be absent. Where you suspect that that may occur you must rely on more than an e-mail invitation. Make phone calls too, and seek to speak directly with the party (ies). Leaving messages with secretaries or admin assistants may have no greater effect than e-mails. If necessary seek to have a private audience with that person (those persons) prior to the main meeting; convince them that they have a vested interest in being present, and that their input will be invaluable in achieving success. In extreme cases you may need to consider asking someone else to convene the meeting on your behalf. As a rule though always follow an email with a call.
Arranging meetings is an art and it’s a science; either way it takes diligent work to achieve success every time. Know your people, know what works for whom; know how to pull highly effective teams together. You may be amazed at the success of your next meeting.