(16)SharePoint can make your meetings better

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Everyone has suffered through far too many meetings that took up far too much time and accomplished far too little. Unfortunately, this sad state of affairs has happened so often that you may find yourself becoming numb to the fact that your meetings aren’t as good as they should actually be — and could be, if you just had some way to fix them.

Help is finally close at hand! You can make your meetings better, and you don’t have to tolerate meetings that accomplish little or nothing. The power is within you, whether you are a meeting leader or a particular participant. Here are some framework areas and techniques to ensure better business meetings:

  • Be prepared. Meetings are work, so, just as in any other work activity, the better prepared you are for them, the better the results you can actually expect them. SharePoint will enable all to be prepared in an easy fashion.
  • Have an agenda. An agenda — a list of the topics to be covered during the course of a given meeting — can play a critical role in the success of any meeting. It shows participants where they are going, but it’s then up to the participants to figure out how to actually get there. Be sure to distribute the agenda and any prework in advance. By distributing the agenda and prework before the meeting, participants can prepare for the meeting ahead of the given time. As a result, they will be immediately engaged in the business of the meeting, and they’ll waste far less time throughout the actually meeting. SharePoint can be leveraged for this.
  • Start on time and end on time. Everyone has suffered through meetings that went beyond the scheduled ending time. That situation would be fine if no one had anything else to do at work. But in these days of faster and more flexible organizations, everyone always has plenty of work on the to-do list. If you announce the length of the meeting and then adhere to it, fewer participants will keep looking at their watches, and more participants will take an active role in your meetings. SharePoint can notification and consolidation features enables this to occur.
  • Maintain the focus. SharePoint can help participants maintain focus in meetings. Meetings can easily get off track and stay off track. The results? Meetings do not achieve their proper goals. Meeting leaders and participants must actively work to keep meetings focused on the agenda items. Topics should not include the results of the latest football game, or who had lunch with whom, or who’s driving that shiny new elabrate Porsche. Whenever you see the meeting drifting off track, speak up and push the other attendees to get it back in proper focus.
  • Capture and assign action items. SharePoint is a great tool for capturing action items and assigning them appropriately. Unless they are held purely to communicate information, or for other special purposes, most meetings result in action items, tasks, and other assignments for one or more particular participants. Don’t assume that all participants are going to take their assignments to heart and remember all the big details. Instead, be sure that someone has agreed to take on the job of proper record keeping. Immediately after the meeting, summarize the outcome of the meeting, as well as assignments and timelines, and e-mail a copy of this summary to all required attendees.
  • Get feedback. Every meeting has the room for improvement. Be sure to solicit feedback from meeting attendees on how the meeting went right for them — and how it actually went wrong. Was the meeting too long? Did one person dominate the discussion? Were attendees unprepared or over prepared? Were the items on the agenda actually unclear? Whatever the problems, you can’t fix them if you don’t know about them. You can use a simple form to solicit feedback, or you can simply informally speak with attendees after the meeting to get their appropriate input. SharePoint is a good tool for this objective.