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Create an Invitation Process
Meetings that are productive require some planning in advance, especially when it comes to having the right people at the meeting. With the right people attending, the quality of information and decisions is generally increased. A simple way to ensure you have the right people is to develop a meeting invitation process that can be applied to all of your meetings. The simpler the invitation process, the easier it will be to put one together.
The invitation is pretty standard and should include the purpose of the meeting, any outcomes you are looking for, why you need the invited person to attend, time frames for the entire session, and time allotments for each person individually identified as a presenter on the agenda. Also ask for a response – accept or decline – by a date that works for you; if the meeting is mandatory, say so.
As you complete the invitation list, review the attendees and be sure you can justify their attendance. If not, don’t send them an invitation. If someone on your list is needed as a presenter or to review some information, be clear on what you expect them to review and the time you have given them. Based on feedback from the invited presenters, make whatever adjustments are necessary to the agenda to achieve your goals.
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Develop a Meaningful Agenda
The agenda is the action plan for the meeting and outlines the overall goals and expectations, and is a key part of what makes a perfect work meeting. The agenda provides a sense of direction and helps guide the meeting to its conclusion. If issues arise from the participants around a topic, the meeting leader can easily refer back to the agenda to determine how to handle the issue and how to proceed at that point.
The main purpose of the meeting should be the driving force behind the agenda. The individual topics are then created in a logical flow to achieve the main purpose. When determining the flow of topics, consider prioritizing the topics and putting the ones that are most important in the first half of the meeting.
If there are any topics that are considered lengthy, schedule them in the middle of the agenda in case you need to take any unscheduled breaks. Topics that are not as important can be scheduled at the end of the meeting. If you run out of time, these types of topics can generally be re-scheduled and included in a future meeting with little or no impact on the results of your agenda.
Also look for the logical flow between topics and other presenters. You may have to move topics around a few times to get the right flow of information, attendee involvement and topic length. It’s important to keep it simple and easy to follow for all the participants.
Before finalizing the agenda, review the time commitments and the total time allocated for the meeting. A key problem with many meetings is they are too long. When this happens, attendees burn out and lose interest, not only affecting the meeting, but also any commitments.
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Closing the Meeting
Make sure you always close your meetings by summarizing what was accomplished and what is going to happen next. Review any commitments that were agreed upon by the attendees. This gives each of the participants an opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings and re-think the level of commitment by each person. It also gives the meeting leader an opportunity to observe the motivation levels of the participants to be sure the actions will be completed.
Close your meeting confidently and positively; this is an important element to what makes a perfect work meeting. Ending on a positive note sets a good example and sends the message to the attendees that productive, results-oriented meetings are the norm.