Here’s how I run a meeting at work but this can be used in any meeting that you have, for example meeting the builders to talk about your new extension, meeting your child's form teacher. I find that unstructured meetings tend to be a waste of everyone's time.
✅ Create and share an agenda before the call, why are you having a call? What problem are you trying to solve? How do you want to solve it? Now this may seem obvious, but everything in life is open to interpretation, what you want to get out of a meeting is in your head, and you need to communicate that clearly and succinctly, so an agenda is key. A meeting isn't about the refreshments, the amount of time people waste asking if you want tea, coffee etc. there is no need this is not a social outing!!
✅ Invite the right people - Meetings are expensive, so be thoughtful about who you invite. To be sure, you want to invite the minimum number of people needed to achieve your goal. There is no point having a meeting with people that can't address your problem, so they have to be the right level and have the authority and power to do what you need. At work, that means having so a team manager who is responsible for the team's work, so that he/she can authorise their resources to do what is needed. The same applies in non-work situations, if thats with the school of your children, having the teaching assistant there may be useful, but if you want this school to take action then you need a department head or deputy head.
✅ End meeting with summary to capture any open questions or follow-up tasks and assign owners for them. Don’t skip this! Better to cut a discussion short than to leave loose ends dangling. I tend to verbally summarise outcomes of the meeting, and confirm in all verbally which I follow up in writing in email in the next step outlined below. Ask for verbal confirmation of each point, so that if you have got it incorrect you have given your audience a chance to disagree,
✅ Confirm the above in email - this has helped me prove actions to Audit 18 months after the event!!!! People don't always remember words that are spoken, so email or a letter is the most professional way of ratifying what has been agreed and discussed. At work, I often document what has been discussed as background, so that can be referred to at a later date in case there is any questions on why the actions were agreed.
✅ Always start & end a meeting on time, everyone time is precious so it’s important that you respect that. So keep an eye on the time, say that we have 5 mins left to the end of this call so I would like to summarise the following.
Meeting Notes Template
Subject Email: <Meeting Name> <Meeting Notes> Date> We all get so many emails, so make sure that the email subject is clear so that people can search their emails for the topic that was discussed.
Attendees: <Names, Roles> Document who attended, not just he people that were invited. On some of my calls, 100 people may be invited by only 50 attend, so at work I use software to track who attended my call and for how long, sometime people dial in and then log off as they were busy, so they are not tracked as an 'attendee' as they did hear what was being discussed.
<Summary of what was discussed use bullet points>
<Who is doing what and by when>
John Smith - to <summary of action> by <date>
Mary Smith - to <summary of action> by <date>
Peter Smith - to <summary of action> by <date>
<Insert the date of the next meeting, if required>
<Attach any additional information that you have for the meeting> Such as the agenda, project plan etc.
Every call that I host, will be followed up with "Meeting Notes" which is formal documentation of the meeting, yes it takes effort but it should be part of your daily work habits.