I know we all know this stuff but it’s surprising how many meetings I have been to that were full of good intentions but were a waste of time . These meetings probably could have been really productive if only a handful of really simple rules had been stuck to. Now working party, steering groups or other formal types of project meeting will invariably follow a prescribed format,and they normally work very well, the types of meeting I am thinking of are the ad hoc ones that come up. As a Business Analyst there will be a lot of ad hoc meetings. Here are the rules I follow myself.
Before the meeting
In the meeting request I always include the following
- I put in an agenda or at the very least I type a couple of lines explaining what the meeting about.
- If I need to I’ll let people know if they need to bring anything with them.
- And finally I tell people what the expected output from the meeting is, for example it may be to get agreement on something, or have some ideas on how to solve a problem, assign roles, get estimates etc
In the meeting
- I always run the meeting so we stick to the objective, that’s not say I will slavishly follow the agenda, I generally won’t but I will keep an eye on the time to ensure we don’t dwell on one item too long, and nudge people onto the next item when I need to.
- As much as possible it’s best to let discussions flow naturally as this gets people thinking and get involved.
- If we go onto topics that have nothing to do with objective I’ll ask people to make a note of the point but then move back to what this meeting was about. By the end I will ensure all my items have been covered even if it’s not in the order I intended !
- Another thing is when you have groups of people one person will always have more to say than others, I always try and make sure I ask a few direct questions to the quietest person in the group, quite often someone quiet will have an insight or another angle that would have otherwise been squeezed out by the more confident in the group.
After the meeting
- Any agreements or commitments must be documented straight after the meeting. I don’t think every meeting warrants detailed minutes but if I have got someone to agree to do a piece of work, or if they have promised they will send me something after the meeting then a little follow up note is a good idea.