Preparing for a Meeting
How to prepare for meetings :
If there is one activity that unites professionals from different occupations
all over the world, it is meetings. Executives, managers, or software developers
-- they all spend a large part of their working hours closeted in conference
rooms discussing issues, significant and insignificant.
Time and venue :
The initiator of the meeting must take up the task of sending out meeting
requests to all parties who are required to attend, specifying the date, time
and venue. If the meeting is a teleconference or a videoconference with
participants from multiple locations, it is essential that the meeting request
contain the date and time of the various time zones.
It is also up to the initiator to arrange for any materials such as a
projector, computer, slides, handouts, or even just a whiteboard and markers. A
manager at a telecommunications firm narrates how a meeting he was invited to
was delayed by 45 minutes because the computer and projectors were not set up,
leading to senior managers walking out and requesting a reschedule.
Once the time and venue of the meeting is fixed, it is vital that the
initiator of the meeting decide the points on the agenda. Each of these points
must be covered in detail and decisions taken on them before the meeting wraps
Minutes of the meeting :
In the duration of the meeting, several points and ideas will be thrown up
which, if not documented, will evaporate into thin air well before the end. It
will be impossible for anyone to retain all the discussed points in memory.
Therefore, it is best for the initiator or the meeting-in-charge to appoint one
person to jot down notes during the meeting. It is better still if two or three
people take notes just in case one misses out something important.
The focus on agenda :
Often, despite maintaining an agenda and adhering strictly to time and
schedule on a few points, the discussion deteriorates into heated debates. At
this point, it is the prerogative of the meeting-in-charge or the initiator to
ensure an objective discussion. Also, if a member starts rambling for hours
without any end in sight, he must be brought back on track. It should be made
clear that although brainstorming is acceptable, digression into irrelevant
territory is entirely unwelcome.
When all points on the agenda have been discussed to the satisfaction of all
parties, the person writing the minutes or even the initiator can wrap up by
briefly reading out the salient points of all that has been discussed, including
action to be taken once people return to their work. The minutes of the meeting
is a good starting point to follow up with team members in the following days if
necessary action has been taken, as discussed.
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