How to run a productive meeting in enterprise IT: Five key steps
We’ve all been there in IT — that dreaded conference call that drags on and on, and when it’s time to hang up, you have nothing to show for it. No issues were resolved, action plans created or decisions made. The only thing the call resulted in was an agreement that a follow-up meeting was required.
The good news is you don’t have to participate in this madness. Take control of your calendar, your time and your sanity by running meetings in an effective and productive manner. For those of us in the enterprise IT world, here are five simple steps to follow.
1. Prepare ahead of time
While preparing for a meeting may require more time than the meeting itself, just think of the time and effort you’ll save when you’re able to accomplish in one meeting what usually takes four.
If you’ll be sharing your screen for an IT demo, be sure everyone has the right access and links to materials prior to the call. That way, you can get right into the agenda without any delays. Then, provide a collaborative workplace as part of your preparation checklist. There are plenty of agile and social tools available to enable file- and screen-sharing, document collaboration and effective virtual brainstorming sessions. Making use of these resources will take your meeting’s productivity to a whole new level.
2. Determine a clear objective
If you’re not sure what you want to accomplish during a meeting, how will your audience know the objective? Clearly stating the purpose of the call in the meeting invite, in an email or on a slide will set the tone for attendees. Consider providing more information in an email beforehand to give insight into what you will discuss. Doing so may even identify a need for additional people to be added to the discussion if the meeting is their area of expertise.
3. Set an agenda and stick to it
Keeping to a schedule may seem simple, but it can be hard to do. I use either a PowerPoint or an agenda posted in our collaborative space to keep attendees on track. If you know that certain individuals tend to overrun your meetings by going into too much detail, be sure to go over the agenda with them up front and assign time frames to each item.
4. Document, document, document
Another common mistake people make in the world of IT is not capturing what was discussed during a call. Meeting notes are not optional. It’s critical to recap each working session by highlighting key discussion points and next steps.
Take your notes a step further by listing owners for each action and due dates as discussed during the meeting. As common courtesy, don’t assign an owner without confirming with them first. Summarize at the end with information on when the team will reconvene to continue the conversation.
5. Follow through
To build strong relationships with colleagues and customers, the most important thing we can do is what we said we would do. Be sure to fulfill the actions you own, and provide a heads-up if anything will be late or different from what was agreed to during discussions.
Continue to look for ways to go above and beyond. Maybe you can get something done in two days instead of four, or perhaps you can provide additional recommendations on how to resolve ongoing issues. What really matters isn’t what you said during the conference call: It’s what you do afterwards that can make or break your reputation and business relationships.
There you have it — sounds easy, right? That’s because it is! To run an efficient and productive meeting in enterprise IT, all you need to do is take control by making sure everyone understands why they’re there, what needs to be accomplished and what resources they need to make things happen. It’s that simple.
Do you have any tips on running productive meetings? I’d love to hear from you on Twitter @comms_lady.