Pre-Work for your efficient meeting
The easiest way to lose control of a meeting is to not have a plan of attack for the meeting. This means knowing the purpose of the meeting. In other words, are you just informing people of a policy change, doing budget planning, or organising travel schedules? This will help you to determine who actually needs to attend. Do not invite people with no need to attend, as it is just a waste of their time. You can include them on the copy list so they know OF the meeting should they wish to attend, but not everyone needs to attend every meeting. Once you know exactly what needs to be accomplished during the meeting you can develop the agenda.
Most folks know what goes on an agenda (time/date/location of meeting) and there should usually be no more than 5 topic areas per meeting, this keeps people more focused during the meeting. There are some items on an agenda that should be paid particular attention. The time of the meeting should include the beginning AND the ending times for instance. This will indicate to attendees that you do understand that everyone is under time constraints and you are attempting to make sure their valuable “work” time is not taken up for too long. Make sure that there is a timeframe for each topic as well as time set aside for discussion should the meeting purpose warrant it. Also, make sure there is contact information for the person presenting the meeting and the individual organizing the meeting if it is not the same person as this gives the potential attendees a person to ask questions of prior to the meeting itself.
It is vitally important that you have someone taking notes for you during the meeting so any issues or questions that could not be addressed on the spot can be addressed at a later time, more on this later. It is also very important to make sure there is someone watching the time for you and signaling you when you time for each item is near an end. Arrange with this person ahead of time what signals will be used for 5min, 3min, 2 min, 1 min, and wrap-it-up. This may sound arduous and you may think you can be responsible for this, but during a meeting it is very easy to get sucked into a tangent and become very interested, this may even be a valid tangent, but needs to be addressed later. If a person separate from you is keeping time you will not go over your time allotted to each topic and your meeting will be more efficient.
Now the easy part, send the invites to the appropriate attendees with a copy of the agenda and prepare the materials for the meeting.
More to follow, stay tuned.
Running an efficient meeting.
I don’t know a lot of people who actually like to attend meetings. Most of the complaints centre on the length of the meeting versus the amount of work accomplished or the individual could be “doing ‘real’ work during the time that ‘useless meeting’ took place”. I know I have been in many meetings that I really wanted to just get up and leave during them as their seemed to be no point to the meeting other than to plan the next meeting. Having an efficient meeting is not always easy but those who attend always appreciate it.
What is most important to an efficient meeting is a plan. The purpose of the meeting helps a lot in the development of “the Plan”. The individual having the meeting (or their Virtual Assistant) needs to do a little pre-work, during, and post-work the whole thing can run more smoothly.
Pre-work involves making an agenda and distributing it to the people attending the meeting. It also involves making sure someone at the meeting will take notes and keep time- this can be the same person, but it is easier if it is not. So, bring some support staff to the meeting with you if you are able. If you are not able to bring your own staff prearrange with an attendee to be timekeeper and note taker, this helps to engage the attendees, or at least two of them.
Start your meeting on time even if everyone has not yet arrived; this will help ensure the meeting doesn’t go overtime. Make sure you end the meeting at the published ending time and for efficiencies sake, during the meeting keep to the agenda. This is difficult as it is easy to take off on a tangent and sometimes difficult to bring attendees back to the topic at hand. This is the most dangerous part of a meeting and the reason there is a plan and a timekeeper. There are many creative ways to make sure people concentrate during the meeting and stick to the topic at hand, I will explore these further on a different post.
Post meeting work should be fairly straightforward. Write-up the minutes of the meeting and distribute them to the attendees. Make sure you or your assistant distribute a “working” copy initially and allow for comments and feedback from attendees after the comment period has reached its expiry, publish the “official” copy of the minutes including any comments or additions from the individuals in attendance.
This is a very basic outline of what it takes to run a meeting efficiently as each section really deserves its own post I shall more fully explore each area; pre-work, during the meeting, and post work, in future posts so stay tuned.
For a new person to the workforce, and some of the older folks as well…
Social media is an important part of everyday life. The uses are wide ranging; from organizing a formal meeting to just seeing if anyone is available to hang out. Because it is so normal to fall back on this convenience, it is important to regulate how you are perceived online. Your future employers may check you out to see what you post, how you respond under pressure, or in what activities you partake. If you manage your online presence well, this can be great for you. Unfortunately, many of us post with out thinking of how the post is perceived by others, this can be detrimental if you are seeking a job, or even if you already have a job. There have been incidents where employees were let go due to things they posted online that were not in the image the company wished to portray. So be smart about what you post and how you post. The items below are a starting point, not an all inclusive list.
Make sure you are not tagged in any photograph depicting illegal/illicit activities, for example; a picture of you at a party involving alcohol consumption when you are not of age to consume, someone in the background of a picture smoking illegal substances, or shoplifting (even if it is a joke picture).
Make sure you are tagged in photographs depicting your involvement in community activities, for example; a picture of you at your graduation from High School, cleaning a local park, passing out water at a fundraising race, or being in a parade.
Do not post names of people who have offended or aggravated you, for example; Phil N. LeBlanc is such a jerk he cut me off in the parking lot and nearly caused an accident, or I cannot stand Professor Nut E. Barre’s class he is so boring to listen to.
If you have been having a bad day and want to vent online, be general in your comments, for example; I nearly got in an accident coming out of the parking lot today, or I have had such a hard time in class today, I am so tired.
If you have observed a fantastic event or kind act during your day, post away. It is always good to compliment someone, for example; I was in the Wegman’s today, and this ladies cart had a bad wheel, so Joe the grocery guy brought her a new cart and helped her switch her stuff over and took the bad cart away-way to go Joe!
There is an adage that says, “Praise in public, chastise in private.” Think of this before you post and it will help you moderate your own posts, comments on others posts, or articles, and anything else you send into cyberspace.
Sabrina loves it when her plans come together. With a young child in the house there are even more opportunities to plan and execute fun, stay tuned for all the details.