By making sure your attendees take the meetings you organise seriously, more gets done – effectively and efficiently.
‘I’m the boss!’, you say.
Or, ‘everyone loves me!’
Nothing can go wrong, right?
The 1986 Mosvick and Nelson Study showed that an economic loss of more than USD 54 million due to ineffective meetings.
So if you really want your meetings to have value, you need to make sure that your attendees are going to have value and bring value to your meetings.
How do you ensure that only those who can bring value attend to your meetings? Especially if it’s an important matter, and you need only those truly relevant participating?
Here’s the best way to ensure this as best as you can – make sure your invitations to them comply to these 3 Ps:
- the purpose of your meeting must be stated up front. It is not enough to put in the subject line: “Planning Session.” The vagueness of your purpose could result in low attendance.
- Be specific with your purpose. You could instead say, “Planning our budget for the first quarter.”
- In addition, you should attach your agenda (discussed in an earlier article) which gives more detail of the discussion topics. It would be useful to add where they are expected to contribute in the agenda as well.
- Place and Time:
- determine ahead of time where and when the meeting will take place.
- Avoid sending out invitations with a to-be-determine (TBD) message. The more effort you place on getting the details done in advance the more your attendees will take you seriously.
- In addition, provide clear instructions on the exact location.
- Pact: create a sense of binding agreement by setting expectations so you get the most responses as soon as possible with a level of commitment. Examples include:
- “Please respond to this invitation within 48 hours.”
- “If you need to cancel, please call, or email me as soon as possible.”
- “Upon acceptance of this invitation, you are expected to attend.”
- “This meeting is a planning session, and your participation and idea-sharing will be greatly appreciated.”
Structuring your invitation with clear and concise information and expectations sends the message that you are seriously managing this meeting.
Next, you have to make sure that the required stationery is available for everyone so that they can take the relevant notes on what they need to do or decide on before the next meeting. To prepare for this, use the following SHOWS acronym (which stands for stationary, handouts, organizer, writing tools, and special requests) to make sure you avoid last minute surprises:
- this is all the paper you will need at the meeting. It includes, note pads, tape, paper clips, folders, and flip chart.
- Each meeting is different. You do not have to bring everything on this list. Determine what is going to take place at the meeting and materials needed for each activity or presentation.
- It is also wise to consult with the people on your agenda to see if they are going to facilitate activities that require stationary.
- many times you or your presenters will need to distribute handouts. There could be a worksheet or an outline from an electronic presentation.
- In any case, you should consult with your presenters and acquire any handouts they may use.
- Make sure it is the most up-to-date version. If not, have them send it to you when they finalize it, but also make sure they do so a day or so in advance, giving you time to print and file it in your handout organizer.
- Otherwise, make sure that they prepare the necessary themselves, or re-structure their presentation to be without handouts.
- when it is time to meet, the last thing you want to do is show up with a stack of handouts. Using an organizer like a folder or portable accordion file is an easy way to file your handouts and other stationary materials in one container.
- The filing system will allow you to file the documents in an orderly fashion, making distribution of the materials more professional. You want to avoid shuffling handouts around in front of your participants when it comes time to distribute them.
- Writing tools: this includes pens, markers, highlighters, and dry erase markers you may need for your meeting.
- Special requests: from time to time, your presenters may make a special request. An example could be a poster. Ask your presenters ahead of time for special requests.
All of the above is important in ensuring cooperation from your attendees so that they show up and contribute effectively – or at least a powerful start.