Let’s just take a moment to actually think about the concept of ‘a meeting.’

It basically all started with the thought that “two heads are better than one”—which is very true. But professionals have taken it too far—now there’s a meeting for everything! One tiny little thought, and BOOM! You have a new weekly recurring meeting taking up your calendar.

Meetings need to have a defined purpose, a defined goal, and people who are actually engaged.

I can guarantee that you plan to hold at least one meeting over the life of your research project. Many of you, will have weekly—if not twice weekly—meetings with your research team over the next five years. That’s over 100 meetings. The success of your research project hinges directly on your ability to hold an effective meeting.

So let’s go back to the basics here.

So you want to hold a meeting?

  1. What type of meeting do you need? There are three types of meetings: 1) Information Exchange, 2) Brainstorming, and 3) Decision-Making.
  2. Who really needs to be there?
  3. How long should it take to accomplish your goal?

Pre-Meeting Actions:

  1. Create a Meeting Agenda with a clearly stated goal.
  2. Sending Outlook calendar request with meeting agenda in the body text.
  3. Discuss any potential conflicts with individuals to avoid disruptive discussions during the meeting.
  4. Encourage pre-meeting communications by asking if there are any questions about the agenda.
  5. Start complex discussions prior to the meeting. Try to use the meeting for final questions, comments and decisions only, not the entire discussion.

During the Meeting:

  1. Print or post the agenda for everyone to see.
  2. Ensure the Meeting starts and ends on time and all agenda items are addressed.
  3. If things get off-track, then ask: “Is this discussion helping us get to the results for this part of the meeting?”
  4. Designate someone to take notes, with special attention to list all Action and Follow-Up Items: Specify who does what by when.

 After the Meeting:

  1. Thank everyone for participation and send out a meeting summary with Action and Follow-Up Items.
  2. Send progress updates on action items as they become due.
  3. Schedule a Follow-Up Meeting if needed.

Some Parting Advice:

If you have a routine reoccurring meeting scheduled, discuss weekly if the meeting is necessary and will be productive. If not, cancel the meeting until there is something more to discuss. Each meeting should contain good communication and be seen as productive use of time.

If you find that every meeting is an information exchange meeting, and no decisions are being made, you need to reevaluate these tips on how to hold an effective meeting!

whenwasthelastgoodmeeting