No business can operate in isolation. We need to communicate, collaborate, brainstorm, make decisions, discuss different items with stakeholders associated with the business, and for all this and much more we need to meet these parties, whether in person or via phone calls/ video calls.
Setting up these meetings might seem to be an easy task, but trust me, if they are not done well, may lead to confusion and miscommunication.
So here are eight things to keep in mind while setting up your next meeting.
1) Do You Really Need a Meeting?
Before setting up a meeting with your team, a client or a vendor, ask yourself if you really need to meet the concerned individual or team or if the discussion can be done over an email.
Remember, every time you are scheduling a meeting, you are not only planning to spend your billable hours but are also utilising the valuable time of your attendees. Hence, it should go without saying that the time of both the parties is put to fruitful use.
As a Project Delivery Consultant, I usually have my interim project checks with my client on a weekly basis, where I discuss the previous week’s work, the work planned for next week and roadblocks, if any. However, towards the end of the project, when the delivery work reduces to an item or a two or minor updates, I switch from conference calls to email updates after a prior agreement with the client. This clears up space in both our calendars, and we can use this one-hour slot for other meetings, or put to some other use.
Now, if the answer to the above-italicized question is YES, here’s a list of things to bear in mind while setting up the meeting:
2) Frequency of the Meeting
Check your sales contract to understand the level of engagement that has been agreed with the different teams on the project. If this has not been covered, discuss the frequency of meetings along with the purpose during your project kickoff meeting.
Following is how I categorise our meetings with the clients:
Once a week – This refers to ad hoc meetings with client teams, partners or vendors.
Weekly – As discussed earlier, this refers to meetings with clients or vendor partners where I discuss the work done during the previous week, the work planned for next week, and roadblocks, if any.
Monthly – This refers to meetings between the Project Delivery Head, Customer Success Manager at our end and the client to give them a high-level overview of the project progress, the next steps, and their feedback on the work completed and the team.
Quarterly – This usually involves quarterly business review meetings with the Project Delivery Head, Customer Success Manager and Chief Growth Officer from our end and the CMOs & CXOs from the client’s end to discuss the project and the way forward keeping in sight the achievement of the overall business objectives.
3) Timing of the Meeting
Before setting up a meeting, propose a couple of slots with the concerned parties. If this is a recurring event, block calendars for the agreed time till the end of the project to avoid sending invites again and again.
Talking about the timing of the meetings, here’s a rule of thumb that I follow — I avoid setting up important meetings on Mondays and Fridays since they are the first and the last day of my working week. Mondays are usually overwhelming because most of my time goes into checking emails and requests received over the weekend or close items that are open from the previous week. Friday is the end of the week, and any action item to be discussed with different teams gets pushed to the next week.
Here’s a quick tip — If your client is working in a completely opposite time zone, check with them if they are good with emails for regular updates and fortnightly or monthly meetings for face-to-face discussions.
4) Duration of the Meeting
While creating the meeting invite, do make a realistic estimation of the time that will be needed for the meeting.
The default duration on Google calendar invite is 50 minutes, but some meetings may take less than 50 minutes, while some may need more. Therefore, it’s definitely worthwhile to make a prudent estimation of the duration needed for the meeting to ensure that everyone’s time is used effectively and avoid spillovers.
5) Attendees for the Meeting
Ensure that you invite the relevant members only from the client or vendor team. Do not extend the invite to everyone in the team.
Keep the invite open to allow the attendees to invite other team members if needed using your invite.
6) Background & Agenda of the Meeting
While sending out the invite, do add a crisp agenda for the meeting.
Start with a short background, and follow it up with the points to be discussed during the meeting. Doing this activity will help to provide context to the attendees, so that they can come prepared for the discussion, and there are no last-minute surprises. Unless you really want to pleasantly surprise your attendees!
Also, ensure that you add a suitable title to the meeting invite. It should be short and relevant to the purpose of the meeting.
7) Link or Bridge for the Meeting
With COVID-19 scenario transforming the way meetings have been conducted all this while, video conferencing tools have become more important than ever.
While setting up the invite, ensure that you have provided an unbroken meeting link and all the entire list of dial- in numbers. Conduct a dummy call to check if the link is working fine before you post the invite.
In case the attendees require to download the tool beforehand, do advise them on the same while sending out the invite so that everyone is set to start the meeting on time.
8) Minutes of the Meeting
To start with, I’d suggest that you do not schedule back to back meetings. At the end of every meeting, use the next 30 to 45 minutes to recap the discussion, the decisions, and the next steps for each of the teams. Compile all these points and send them out on the invite email thread as a written record for reference and accountability in the future.
Now that you have gone through this piece, how many of these do you already follow while setting up your meetings? Comment and let me know if I have missed out something!