How do you prepare for a meeting? Some people bring notebooks while others bring a carefully hidden ear bud so they can listen to their music while the boss and his underlings drone on and on. Preparing for a meeting starts with knowing what the meeting is about. Sometimes, of course, that can’t be known until after the meeting has started, but you should already be attuned to the office climate well enough to know whether the meeting will be about hail or high water.
If you are the one calling the meeting, then you’d better darn sure know what the meeting is about. In fact, you should have set an agenda for what will be discussed. Meetings can be fun when they are unstructured, but they can rarely accomplish anything under those conditions. Arrive at the meeting with at least a strict agenda written on the back of a menu. Better yet, have the agenda printed, copied and ready to be handed out. Letting your employees know what’s coming will put them more at ease and allow them to prepare for what is discussed.
Set an exact time for a meeting to begin, but not to end. You don’t want to enforce a time limit on the meeting because if you do, every eye in the room will be partially fixed on the clock. Beginning the meeting at the exact time stated will ensure that those who arrived late won’t be so lax next time.
Keep a record of the meeting. Don’t call the record minutes because some people may not understand that term which is kind of dumb anyway. If you plan on taping the entire meeting, let the employees know. You’re not Dick Cheney, after all. You can trust your underlings; they aren’t all potential industrial terrorists. A record of the meeting should at least include what was discussed and who said what. This latter part of the record is very important when someone comes up with a truly innovative idea. Reward innovation and your employees will thank you and maybe even want to come to a meeting.
Leave some time at the end of the agenda to for open discussion and questions. Just don’t let that one person who has no life other than the job keep droning on and on. That person is just going to tick off those employees attending the meeting despite the fact that they have a life outside the office.