The Two Essential Parts of a Successful Meeting

Meetings can be a chore but, are necessary.

Whether you are a team executive or a new employee eventually you will have to conduct or be a part of a team meeting. Now I have attended meetings in multiple school clubs and if there is one thing I have noticed is that, not all meetings are effective. After much consideration, I have come to the conclusion that there are two aspects of a meeting that can make it so it either goes well or everyone in the room is wasting their time: an agenda and minutes. I didn’t know at first, the importance of both of these things but, after seeing what happens when a team goes with them it definitely has shown me why both are extremely important to a successful meeting.

An agenda is your Gandalf, leading you to Mordor.*

When I became the secretary for my fraternity I didn’t have much training so I had no idea what was expected of me during the first executive meeting. It was a daunting experience, one that doesn’t seem as scary now. I realized however that I would have a big impact on the way our team would be organized very early on when the president of our organization asked me to start writing the agendas for both the executive and chapter meetings. Now first and foremost, I am still debating over whether or not one person should ultimately decide what is on the agenda for any meeting or it should decided on by an agenda but, at the end of the day there needs to be a discussion about something (if not, why not just have meetings about what should be on the agenda too). Regardless, one thing is for certain: no matter what your team’s overall objectives are, they have to be organized to save time. I have witnessed meetings that go nowhere because we either have oversight on important topics that need to be covered or because we didn’t have enough time in the meeting to discuss it. I personally have adopted the Steve Jobs way of conducting a meeting: if there is no agenda, please do not waste my time.** Agendas are not the end all be all, there also needs to be room for discussion on topics not on there if circumstances come to it. However, keep in mind that an agenda should consist of key items that need to be addressed by the team in order to move forward (all other items should be secondary to the teams goals). An agenda helps meetings go smoothly and save a tremendous amount of time, time that can be spent actually doing what was discussed during the meeting.

Write minutes. Then read them!

We can discuss what constitutes a successful meeting for hours but, if there is anything I will always be convinced is needed to keep a team coordinated it has to be writing meeting minutes and ensuring the whole team reads them after. The importance of a well constructed minutes document is very underrated. Minutes allow for those who couldn’t attend the meeting to stay informed and allow for your team/company to better organize information for weekly editorials and board reports for your customers and the entire staff. One key to team success is communication and you cannot achieve that if there aren’t any meeting minutes that can be reviewed at any given time. Minutes are not just to keep a record of all team discussions but, are also a good indicator of how productivity over time is shown (in a qualitative manner). The more information delivered in the least amount of time can be shown as the team optimizing itself (comparing analysis gained from minutes to actual data, let’s say number of conversions made on a specific campaign can be a more accurate way of determining this). One of the secretary’s greatest responsibilities is to make sure the team’s minutes are accurate and well-organized, and that can only be insured if people read them!

As a leader, you should never be caught dead in a meeting that doesn’t have an agenda set at least 24 hours ahead of time and someone ready to take the minutes for the meeting. Everyone’s time will be wasted, meetings are not just set for discussions on  ideas and tangents but, rather discussing the team’s overall goals and strategies that will be created and implemented to achieve them.

Recommended Articles:

  1. Dan Bull Meetings At Your Workplace
  2. Canceling One-On-One Meetings Destroys Your Productivity
  3. 8 Really Bad Meetings to Avoid (and How to Fix Them)
*Lord of the Rings reference, I hope you didn’t need to read this to know that.