Creative Commons License photo credit: Brothers Le

Many of us spend much of the working week in meetings, but are often dissatisfied with the use of time and will often say the vast majority of meetings are a complete waste of time.

Meetings have many purposes. One of the purposes is to get a decision made about something so people can move forward in their work.

Yet, few would say that meetings produce decisions.

Here’s how you can get a decision made as an outcome from a meeting :

What’s the intent of the meeting?

What do you intend to achieve by having the meeting? Write this down and keep it in front of you whilst you hold your meeting. Keep asking yourself, is the meeting achieving what you expect?

After you’ve written your intent down, then think about what decisions you want taking and form your agenda around that intent.

Always have an agenda

The Agenda support the intent of the meeting. The only points that should be on the Agenda are those which support the intent of the meeting.

To help with making the decision make the agenda action orientated. Next to the Agenda item put down what the outcome of that item you’re wanting achieved at the meeting. For example say the agenda item is ‘new building’ the action item should be ‘to approve the business case for new building and £5m of expenditure’.

Only have decision makers in the room

Most meetings have extra participants who don’t really need to be there. Maybe they are invited so they know what’s going on or maybe they participated in a meeting once and are still on the invite list.

Only have the people in the room you need to make a decision.

Where’s the other side coming from?

To avoid being blind sided in the meeting, it’s a good idea to understand the other attendees position(s) before the meeting as this gives you the opportunity to tackle their issues either before the meeting or you are prepared in the event of the issues being raised.

Offer an ‘Aunt Sally’

Whilst it’s hard to generate a decision from a standing start it’s a lot easier if you’ve got a model decision that you want to discuss. The discussion could well improve the decision or generate a preferred option.

What’s the next action

Once you get a decision, you need to decide on what your next action is. Who is going to do what and by when? Note these next actions down and ask the others to note their actions too. Whilst it’s tempting for actions to be delivered by the next meeting, try and get these to a much shorter time frame if possible.

Wrap up by reviewing the actions and ensure that everyone is clear and in agreement before the meeting is closed.

So, what would you add?

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