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Thursday, 28 February 2008 12:01

What's Your Agenda

Written by  Margaret Meloni
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I am shocked at the number of project managers who confess that they run meetings without agendas. Most of these project managers know that a meeting agenda is an effective tool for running successful meetings.

I am shocked at the number of project managers who confess that they run meetings without agendas. Most of these project managers know that a meeting agenda is an effective tool for running successful meetings. You can take most of them through this line of questioning:

 

                Do you like attending meetings?

Most will say no.

 

               Why don’t you like attending meetings?

Here is what many will tell me:

They take up too much time, they run long and nothing is accomplished. I don’t even know why I am invited to most of the meetings I attend. People are using my time and my time is valuable, I could be doing something else.

 

How could meetings be improved?

Here are some common replies:

The facilitator/leader should use an agenda. We should stick to the agenda. Tell me why I am in the meeting. Start and end the meeting on time. Keep productive and focused.

 

        Do you use agendas for your meetings?

Of course I want to hear people say “Yes!” What I frequently hear is well sometimes, or no or not always.

 

Oops, this is where we have a problem. How can it be that so many of us know that we don’t like to attend meetings that have no agenda or purpose and yet we still inflict those types of meetings on others?

 

Think about this, very often the first time your team members see you is at a kick off or introductory meeting. Your behavior in that meeting frames their first impression of you. If you are disorganized and do not use their time well, do you think they are looking forward to working with you?

 

The best case scenario is to publish your agenda with your meeting invitation or send it one business day in advance of the meeting. If you don’t do this, then try to publish the agenda a few hours before the meeting. Don’t email the agenda ten minutes before you walk to the conference room and then act surprised when attendees have not seen the agenda.

 

If for some reason, you did not publish the agenda in advance, bring copies with you and review it at the start of the meeting. If you do not have hardcopies, then review the agenda verbally with the group at the start of the meeting. If possible write it on a flip chart or white board. You want everyone to know why you are using their time.

 

In spite of all your best efforts, not everyone will read the agenda. You can snap at them and say, “Why do YOU think I publish an agenda in advance?” What do you think this will get you? It is definitely not a good way to build team trust and respect. You might want to consider assuming that nobody has read the agenda and politely review it with everyone as the meeting begins.

 

One last point, if you are asking someone to participate by providing information or bringing materials or doing a presentation; make sure you contact them ahead of time.

Don’t just assume that they understood from the agenda what you need. Try to contact them and have a conversation about what you expect. Catching someone off guard or embarrassing them in the meeting is not very helpful to any of you.

 

So to those of you who say, “I don’t have time” or “I don’t have administrative support” consider this; the agenda is a strategic tool. You make time for strategy don’t you? Why wouldn’t you use this tool to plan and strategize what you need to get from meeting attendees? Why wouldn’t you want to use meeting team productively, so that more work is accomplished in the meeting and fewer action items take place after the meeting?

 

Why wouldn’t you want people to actually look forward to your meetings? And why wouldn’t you be using your ability to conduct effective meetings to improve your professional image?

 

 

Read 3923 times Last modified on Friday, 04 April 2008 17:45
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