In other words
A meeting can be defined as an event where a number of people (participants) engage in a discussion of predetermined issues (agenda). What we are concerned with here are professional, structured, goal oriented gatherings with an implicit hierarchy and an explicit time limit.
There are at least five strands when identifying meeting types according to purpose:
Meetings can also be classified according to frequency and size:
Different meetings require members (leaders, participants) to assume a variety of roles. In turn, these roles necessitate a variety of skills. It is imperative that all involved realise what is needed of them and adopt the appropriate mindset while attending the meeting.
Hint: How is technology affecting the very nature of meetings? *
Tips and tricks
There are a number of points to consider in order to increase meeting efficiency and effectiveness. Ideally, you should be able to create your own checklist of tips and tricks that really work for your professional environment. Until then, here are some pointers that you might want to consider:
1. Be inclusive. If you are leading a meeting, make certain you invite the number of people that are most likely to contribute effectively and competently. Remember: “it’s not about who’s the boss. It’s about who’s got the best ideas.”
2. Be prepared. Whether you are leading the meeting or have been invited to attend, respect all participants’ time: know the agenda, what is required of you, the starting and finishing times and the materials you need to bring with you.
3. Be punctual. If you are leading the meeting start on time and finish on time. Allocate time slots for people to speak and monitor them ruthlessly. If you are attending the meeting, be as succinct and focused as possible.
4. Gather information. Depending on the agenda – the list of topics to be covered during the meeting – think of what is required of you and how you can contribute. You may feel you are over-preparing, yet you are only being respectful to your colleagues’ time – and intelligence.
5. Have an action plan. Meetings are usually the kick-off points for action plans. People do not assume responsibilities on their own. As a leader, assign roles and duties and monitor closely. As a participant find out what is required of you and prioritise accordingly.
6. Maintain focus. Whether you are leading the meeting or have been invited to attend work to keep meetings focused on the agenda items. There are other times and places to socialise with colleagues; if not, you may need to create them.
7. Value meetings. Whatever your role, (leader, participant, presenter) focus on quality rather that quantity. Too much information and participants get disheartened; too little information and participants feel this was a waste of their time. The most important part of the meeting is what happens before and/or afterwards. * Think about face to face meetings as opposed to virtual meetings using teleconferencing tools.