Running Meetings

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Hi All, 
 
This is a follow-on to my DOB a couple of weeks ago about improving the efficiency of our company, so we can have more time to focus on our customers and our partners. 
 
Let’s talk about running our meetings… I have a few observations before I provide the framework. We need to add more structure to our meeting process. I see that there are too many meetings that don’t have an agenda, or we invite people who aren’t really necessary to the outcomes of the decision-making process. 
 
In a meeting, you’re reviewing data, work product, and sharing perspectives so decisions can be made, and actions assigned. If you can’t fit your meeting into that framework, then I seriously question the reason for the meeting in the first place. Reviewing a report is not a good reason for a meeting or a substitute for an agenda. 
 
When scheduling a meeting to answer the following questions – 
  

  1. What decisions need to be made?  
    • This should be clearly stated at the top of the meeting agenda 
    • If you cannot clearly answer this question, then you should reconsider if the meeting is necessary 
  1. What are the different perspectives that need to be heard or considered? 
    • Who needs to be involved or which parts of Tahzoo need to be included? 
    • What are the topics that need to be discussed and confirmed? 
  1. What data is required to make an informed and data-driven decision? 
    • Do you have the data and reports necessary to make a data-driven decision? 
    • Reviewing a report is not a substitute for a meeting agenda, the reports should be read ahead of time so that we can ask the important questions that arise from the data 

In addition to the framework that I outlined above, the following recommendations were provided to the Microsoft field sales force as part of our project: 
 
Meetings 
 
Prepare for a meeting that you have organized by performing the following actions: 

  • Before sending the invitation, formulate a meeting plan and ensure that you are only inviting those individuals who can help achieve the meeting’s objectives. 
  • Provide an agenda at least one day before the scheduled meeting with a copy of the invitation, ensure that invitees are aware of the purpose and desired outcome of the meeting, and outline the role of each invitee. 
  • If there is prerequisite reading or work, send the materials in advance to ensure that invitees have context and include a note in the Subject line indicating “pre-reading/pre-work required.” 

If you have been invited to a meeting and these actions have not been completed, you have my explicit permission… don’t go! 
 
Follow these guidelines when conducting the meeting: 

  • Begin and end the meeting on time. 
  • Follow an agenda and keep a list of any items that stray from the core purpose of the meeting. 
  • Clearly articulate decisions, action items, and the next steps at the close of the meeting. 
  • Designate one person to document the meeting and provide a summary of the meeting. After the meeting, send a meeting summary to share the decisions, action items, and next steps with those who attended the meeting as well as with those individuals that did not attend, but should be involved in, or aware of, the meeting outcome. 

  
Scheduling Meetings 
 
When sending conference call meeting requests: 

  •  Include the conference phone number and passcode in the “Location” line. 
  • Attach links to reference materials — prerequisite reading, agendas, etc. — in the body of the request. 

If using Live Meeting: 

  • Include appropriate links so attendees can download the client if necessary. 
  • Include the link and authorization for attendees to join the session. 
  • Determine if you want to record and archive the session so that others who could not attend can review the actual meeting at a later time. 
  • Provide an alternative source for the file content if an attendee cannot gain access to the Live Meeting session. 

  
The guidelines are common-sense recommendations for running efficient meetings. Our time – your time – is too valuable to be spent not being action-oriented. I realize this will take a little more time and effort to be disciplined about our meeting process, but it will have huge payoffs for each of you. If you’re on the scheduling side take the time to be prepared, and if you’re on the invitee side make sure you’re an active participant. This is another important part of making sure we are becoming more and more data-driven in our decision-making process. 
 
Let’s go be great,
Brad