How to make meetings an asset for L&D

by L&D04 May 2016
Instead of being a productive environment of relevant ideas and learning, meetings often descend into a work-based social function on company time and money, according to Alan Manly, entrepreneur and author of When There Are Too Many Lawyers … There Is No Justice.
The thought of socialising with fellow staff and being paid at the same time is sure to keep meetings a popular distraction to lonely work routines, he added.
“To assess the quality of a meeting go no further than the official minutes,” said Manly.
“Agenda items are loosely worded. Action items are carried over from one meeting to the next. 
“The most obvious element missing in such meetings is leadership. So, how can you turn meetings from a cost into a company asset?”
Set the agenda
Meetings need a reason. If you are running a meeting, put all the issues that you want discussed on the agenda. Don't be afraid to itemise every issue that you want discussed. It will give you and others in the meeting a firm guideline of what is expected to be discussed. You will also sleep better if all the news, good and bad, is aired in the meeting. Being smart and quick witted may work against you in your meeting. Boring is good!
Know who is where
Sign an attendance sheet. This sets the scene that the meeting is serious. Apologies need to be recorded along with late arrivals. If anyone excuses themselves from the meeting for any reason the minutes should record the time of leaving and returning.
Timing is everything
Start the meeting on time. It's not the five or ten minutes that you are focusing on, it's the leadership issue. Either you are leading or following. Start on time and let the others learn that they will fall behind if they are late. Items on the agenda must be given serious consideration and be shown to have been considered.
Know the agenda
Have each agenda item assigned to a meeting member who is able to speak to the issue. Insist that each speaker has a brief paper of what they are going to talk about. Bullet points will do. This not only assists the speaker to stay on message. It does everyone a favour including the secretary who will have a skeleton to build the meeting discussion on.
Manage the current meeting minutes
After each item is discussed ask for what has been recording in the minutes. Make sure the secretary has got it right. This ensures that the minutes accurately reflect what was agreed and everyone is still in the room. Accepting the minutes in the next meeting will be lot easier if this work is done as it happens and not relying on faint memory of a month or more.
“By following these guidelines you will achieve desired outcomes which ensure that your meetings will not be a memory test or an office bun fight, said Manly. 
“The leadership shown in the minutes will repay the investment many times over. “