Tips from the ‘Frequent Flyer’ Meeting Organizer

Some days it feels like my workday is consumed by meetings.  As a business owner, I’m sure you can relate; meetings on this and that, this committee, that committee, this project, that project, sometimes very important (sometimes not so important), but always necessary.

Have you ever sat in a meeting and thought to yourself, “I really could be doing something more productive right now”? I certainly have. I sit there and think about the long list of tasks waiting for me at my desk and day-dream of scratching lines through my to-dos while chatty organizers, late attendees, and off topics conversations, result in meetings running long and nothing being accomplished (except the need for yet another meeting to discuss what was suppose to get done today!) .

I have actually sat in a meeting, a very long meeting, and have been left wondering what it was all about. What was the purpose? What was the goal? Left to my own devices, I’m certain I could have accomplished everything that was supposed to be accomplished (in less than half the time), but alas; my entire afternoon was a bust.

As a ‘frequent flyer’ meeting organizer, I realize how important it is for me to be prepared and always do my best to effectively utilize the time of those who I have asked time of.

Hey, I’m no expert on the subject but I am two things: (1) organized and (2) a person that likes to get things done. As a business owner, I’m sure you value both. So, here are some tips I use to make my meetings a little more efficient.

  • Have an agenda and send it out to participants ahead of time. This allows everyone to prepare and be ready to participate in the meeting. It also gives participants the opportunity to bring along any and all important materials.
  • Set goals and clearly outline them to everyone. This is what you need to achieve and direct the meeting so that conversation centers on accomplishing these goals.
  • Create action items. I love action items! These will come up during discussions and some will be more time sensitive and important than others, but regardless, before the meeting is over someone should be assigned the task and be given a deadline to complete it by.
  • Assign duties & deadlines. Even more than action items, I love assigning duties and deadlines to action items. Give people tasks, you do not have to do everything yourself. Play to people’s strengths and, most importantly, set a deadline. If people don’t have deadlines, things find a way of staying off the to-do list. Deadlines keep people organized and on task.
  • Send out minutes or important info. I have to be honest, I am terrible at taking minutes. Thankfully, our Office Manager Judy is great at this. I am, however, very good at recording tasks and deadlines. This one depends on your preference; at the very least, record action items and pertinent dates and send them out to attendees. That way, the group knows what each other is responsible for; a great way to keep everyone accountable.
  • Follow up I usually send out friendly reminders a few days in advance of deadlines, that way, if some of us have been busy and forgotten to complete our action item we still have a few days to do so.
  • Schedule Your Next Meeting. Depending on the meeting, sometimes this is not necessary; however, if you are working with deadlines and want to keep the ball rolling, it is always a good idea to schedule the next meeting before you leave. As schedules fill up, with everyone in the room and calendars in hand, it is usually a pretty efficient way to set the next meeting. If this meeting is recurring, schedule the next few months. And, send out a meeting request via outlook so that it is put in everyone’s calendar.
  • Be Respectful. That old saying “Treat others how you want to be treated” applies here. If you don’t want people wasting your time, don’t waste theirs.

My golden rule; if you organize a meeting, if you ask people to give of their time, than it is your responsibility to show up on time, be prepared, be organized, stay on task and ensure the conversation leads to things getting done.

Kristy Martell is NLOWE’s Chief Operating Officer. If you are interested in learning more about the many opportunities that NLOWE can offer women entrepreneurs, call Kristy at 1.888.NLOWE.11 ext. 223 or email her at kmartell@nlowe.org.  For more information about NLOWE, visit us online at www.nlowe.org or check out our Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or YouTube pages.

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