Ensuring Meeting Basics

What do your meeting stats tell you about your meetings?

If you have installed the Outlook add-in and gathered stats on your meetings, the various charts and donuts will present you with an analysis of the composition of your meetings:

  • The balance between internal and external meetings
  • The proportion of your meetings that are held virtually
  • The degree to which your meetings are recurring meetings
  • The extent to which your meetings have objectives and agenda defined
  • How much of your time is taken up in travel
  • And, overall, what proportion of your time is taken up in hosting or attending meetings

You may also have begun to get feedback from people who have been attending your meetings.


What questions do your meeting stats raise?

Does your data indicate whether there is any benefit in doing a few things differently? For instance:

  • What would be the implications of spending a bit less meeting time internally and a bit more time involving customers in meetings?
  • Are the routine meetings always efficient, or would it make sense to adjust the meeting time to what is required at that point in time?
  • Could more physical meetings be made virtual, and how would this reduce the travel component?
  • Could the purpose of some (parts of) meetings be fulfilled by better use of forums and social networks as a collaborative tool?
  • Do all the meetings you attend use your time efficiently, or would it make better use of your time to attend only partially or in a different way?
  • Might the same be true for other attendees at some of the meetings you host?
  • How does the overall time spend compare with what you would ideally like it to be, and might some of the adjustments described above achieve this for you?


Getting the basics right

One obvious set of candidates for improving might be the basics – essential good meeting practice – if you feel there are gaps in this.

The first section of the meetings checklist provides a useful set of questions which you might use to set your meetings on a surer foundation if appropriate:

Clarity of purpose/process

Is there a clear objective defined which warrants the meeting? Is it necessary (as a meeting) or can (at least some of) it happen through 1:1s or on Social Networks? Does the objective provide clarity over why it is required and what it is to achieve?  Fat Words vs. SMART

Is there a timed agenda for the meeting included in the invite?  Does the agenda make clear what questions need to be answered in what order? Have appropriate blocks of time been laid out for each? Is it clear where preparation is required to support this, and have people been appointed to do this?  Session Plans

Quality of facilities/support

Has an appropriate facility been set up for the meeting?  Has the need for virtual or physical facilities been properly evaluated? Has the ‘room’ been configured for efficiency? Are tools and resources fully functioning and in sufficient quantity? Are there spares? Are people bringing what they need?  Internet options for meetings

Has everything been done to maximise the ability to participate?  Does everybody have sight of what they need? Has pre-reading been made available, and is it concise? Is there time/space to move around and take breaks? Do people have the required access codes/directions?  Meeting room set ups

Progress between meetings

Did actions have clear deliverables and agreed timescales? Were actions clearly identified within the meeting, documented and circulated? Are they defined in SMART terms? Do they have specified owners who are capable and committed to ensuring they are fulfilled?  Action Minutes

Has progress been reviewed to ensure it remains on track?  Are the management processes which have been adopted sufficient to ensure milestones are met? Is slippage learned from such that performance on actions improves each meeting? Is the performance of the meeting itself reviewed collectively?    WWW/AFI – What went well / Areas for improvement


Using meeting feedback

Before you read too much into your meeting feedback it is very important that you understand that the feedback is NOT measuring you!

If you have begun to gather meeting feedback from your meetings, the comments within them may suggest some obvious areas for improvement. Where this is not the case, you can still use the feedback as a stimulus for discussion with people – either individually or collectively. Present them the feedback you have received for the meeting, and use this to ask them what thoughts or observations they have as to how the meeting might be improved, and then work out together how these might be implemented.