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Arranging a meeting in line with the familiar ways of conducting meetings can be a waste of time and money. This is the first in a series of three articles aiming to increase the value of meetings. First, consider whether or not there are better ways to reach your goals by questioning the ‘familiar’ in light of the following points:

Ask yourself: Should I be Arranging a Meeting?

Meetings are expensive and influence culture, workflow and motivation. Be sure to consider whether a meeting is the best way forward to meet your goal?

Inviting 8 people to a one-hour meeting is equal to having a person working on the matter for 8 hours. Inviting 50 people to a meeting…

Consider if you can gain equal or more value in less time while disturbing fewer people.

Make a status report instead

A full days work and a status report can at times be a better solution. Even if you spend the same amount of time, you have not disturbed the workflow of others.

Meet with People Individually

There are times where five minutes spent with each individual person separately is more effective than sitting down all together.

This ‘method’ moreover ensures that all voices are heard regardless of dominance, eloquence and more.

Cut the ‘Meeting Time’ in Half

When arranging a meeting consider its optimal duration.

ANECDOTE: Once upon a time on a first workday, my new Boss arrived fresh from a leader course and made the following experiment at our meeting:

We, the attendees, were placed into groups of three. First we were given one minute to write down, how we could improve knowledge sharing about different projects within our department. Next, we were given thirty minutes to answer the same question.

As you might have guessed, all groups experienced that the answers given in the one-minute session were completely the same as those written down in the thirty-minute session.

This was a true eye-opener to the fact that we make use of the time we are given. At meetings, the quality of our solutions does not increase with the time spent contemplating them.

Collaborate and Knowledge Share Outside Meetings

Avoid using meetings as a place to share existing knowledge. Instead, set up social network solutions or cloud platforms to make collaboration and knowledge sharing outside meetings easy.

This way people can prepare and gain knowledge necessary for the next meeting at a time most convenient for their schedule.

Sharing information even by email is better than spending valuable ‘meeting time’ catching up.

Video Record Meetings

Few organizations video record their meetings, yet surely we will see more of this in the near future.

Video recordings are not a solution for all types of meetings. However, in combination with outlines for easy access to relevant parts of the meeting discussion – video recordings – including online recordings, are a time efficient way to share knowledge. By use of recordings the distributor level is completely ‘cut out’ and all can retrieve know-ledge when needed. They may be intended for a select few or the entire organization.

Arranging Tele-Meetings and Add-hoc Meetings

When participants are from different locations, tele-meetings may be a preferable solution. Today, solutions such as Skype or FaceTime make face-to-face interaction possible even for long distance communication.

Arranging a tele-meeting also allows for the ad-hoc invitation of other people than those originally invited to the meeting.

Tele-meetings obviously save travel time and expenses and they allow for more flexibility in the way meetings are conducted.

Energize Attendees when Arranging a Meeting

No matter how you decide to facilitate your meeting, make efforts to build enthusiasm around the goal of the meeting.

One way to do this is to ensure that all people are heard – not just the loud, the extroverts or the most eloquent speakers.

Involvement creates passion and enthusiasm and you want all to invest in reaching your goals. Being attentive, open minded and equally fair to all attendees will moreover reward you peoples’ respect as a skillful facilitator of meetings.

Checklist of Questions to pose when Arranging a Meeting

  1. Is this meeting necessary?
  2. Are there any other ways to gain more or equal value within the same or even a shorter timeframe (8 people at a 1 hour meeting = 8 hours)?
  3. Will five minutes spent with each person potentially be more effective?
  4. Is a status report a better solution?
  5. Can the time allocated for the meeting be cut in half or more?
  6. How can we collaborate and share knowledge outside the meeting to avoid using valuable ‘meeting time’ to merely catch up on information?
  7. Can we benefit from video recording a meeting? Perhaps an online meeting?
  8. How much time and money will be saved by arranging a tele-meeting instead of gathering people in a room?
  9. In what ways can I keep up the enthusiasm of participants and how do I make sure all are heard?

Do you have any recommendations to add? If so, we will update the list accordingly.

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