Preparation is the magic word!
For a few years, I’m part of the board in my student organization, and almost two now as the president. One important part of my tasks is to organize, prepare, lead, and take part in conferences. And I don’t like meetings, especially non-efficient ones.
I was sick of it. So I introduced one important tool that reduces the length of each one drastically:
It’s not that simple but:
- preparing the protocol in advance with the agenda
- participants prepare what they want to talk about and put it in the protocol
- Important topics get sent out to everyone beforehand
- All participants prepare themselves for the topics
One big part usually was the update of all the board members, and it takes a big part of the meeting. Reducing this big agenda point was huge for the time length of the meeting.
“The meetings can be a lot of fun or they can be frustrating.”
— Bob Weir
All participants prepare their talking points
Every one of them writes their update in advance and writes it down. In the meeting, they have to read it out loud to everyone.
That way it’s not saving a lot of time but also the possibility of missing something is almost zero. Before the meeting, all your participants have time to think about what points they want to talk about, and by writing it down they don’t forget it.
It’s time spent before to prepare the meeting to save a lot of time during it.
Important Things Are Not Forgotten And Get Sent Out Beforehand
Big agenda points like budgets get mailed to all participants for them to prepare for questions and feedback. And also to understand it beforehand instead of figuring it out during the meeting.
One extra bonus of preparing is to get better questions and feedback at the meeting. The best scenario is, it can spark new interesting ideas or someone remembers something useful for the topic.
For example, the marketing board wants to talk about social media, and after reading that I remember that some students told me that they heard about us from Discord, and they are not on Instagram.
The meeting will be a place to exchange ideas and get other opinions and experiences as feedback. This way the whole team is exchanging their knowledge. Better ideas and work will be the result.
“The majority of meetings should be discussions that lead to decisions.” — Patrick Lencioni
By having prepared participants in your meeting you will have efficient discussions and gatherings.
Everyone knows what the topics are about and can add their knowledge. You don’t have to explain anything.
By having efficient meetings you can make a decision at the end because everyone is informed, gave their feedback, and knows what to decide on.
Those decisions will be good decisions because they are well-thought and discussed ones, compared to spontaneous, not prepared ones.
“You have a meeting to make a decision, not to decide on the question.”
— Bill Gates
For every board meeting I’m in charge of this is the system of steps I follow:
- The regular meeting is on the calendar
- A week before I will write them and ask if there is any important point they want me to put on the agenda
- I will send out the agenda to everyone
- I get the protocol with the agenda points and templates ready
- I send the protocol to the board to write down the updates, and they can already see the topics from the others
- I read through the topics of everyone to be prepared
- I’m early and prepare for the meeting (notebook ready for protocol, drinks, food,…)
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