As we approach summer, the campus is a tad bit quieter without the hum of activity in the fall and spring semesters. Many of us look forward to summer in anticipation of how much we’ll accomplish through collaborative work with colleagues. Meetings become the vehicle by which we get things done. Amid the check lists and project lists, keep some helpful tips in mind when planning meetings this season.
Your meeting’s purpose should be crystal clear. When your purpose is well defined, it will positively shape each person’s experience. Attendees should have a sense of investment and connection to the agenda. Try to avoid having a group meeting to solely bring folks together – that’s a gathering, not a meeting. Instead, give thoughtful consideration to what you’d like to accomplish. Jot down some goals and begin to pull together an agenda that aligns with those goals. Further, send your agenda ahead of time – you’ll role model a sense of collaboration and transparency.
Be sure to consider needs when planning the meeting. How long will the meeting last? Is the meeting space conducive to the meeting’s agenda? If you’re planning to have attendees work in small groups, are there enough tables to allow for break-out group activities? Think about the time of day and day of week before scheduling the meeting. Also, be specific about the meeting start and end time. Meetings on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons may not be as popular during the summer months. Take a pulse or better yet, send out a Doodle poll to gauge what times might be best.
Who is your intended audience and who will attend this meeting? Sometimes, this is the same group of people and sometimes it isn’t. If your intended audience is a senior group of leaders and mid-level managers are the ones who will likely attend the meeting, figure out how to align the scope of the meeting to the audience. Be sure to account for time to brainstorm and vet ideas, as well as gain traction on action ideas with senior leaders. You’ll ensure that your end result is well-informed and takes all perspectives into account.
Do your best to balance interaction with information sharing, especially at your first meeting. This will help you move forward on projects without sacrificing valuable connection time. It’s important to connect people and resources and your meeting could provide an ideal opportunity.
Take time to incorporate opportunities for colleagues to learn about other units at the first meeting and any meeting when new attendees are present. Devote a few moments for attendees to share information about their units, positions, and how they might partner with others in the room. Consider inviting guests or subject matter experts to speak at the meeting.
Ask each staff member to provide an update on tasks they are working on in connection to the project. This will ensure that attendees remain focused and connected to the goals for the meeting. Also allow participants to ask for feedback and to request help with projects. This will further fuse the group together and encourage esprit de corps.
Incorporate opportunities for folks to participate during the meeting! Invite attendees to submit agenda items or ask specific attendees to share information before the next meeting. Consider starting the first meeting with a quick icebreaker activity. If someone tends to be quiet during meetings, check in with them and ask them to share their perspective at the next meeting. It’s important to hear from the entire collective.
Each of these strategies may facilitate much needed communication and teamwork. Your planning will be much appreciated.
Remember, everyone has a voice and ideas that may shape the direction of your meeting.
Last updated: March 16, 2017