Operational Excellence

Three Tips for Keeping Your Creative Meetings on Track

by Brad Egeland, April 14, 2015
 

Meetings are a tough topic. Everyone wants to host one to aid their own causes or for their own projects or purposes. But no one wants to attend one. It’s like what I say about most phone calls. The person calling wants to talk. For the person receiving the call, it is often just an interruption. Many phone calls and meetings are NOT two-way streets. That’s why communication management and time management are important in order to be successful. Just like we must plan our business calls well in order to get the info we want and drive the conversation to a successful outcome, we must do the same with meetings.

In this article, I want to discuss three tricks to keeping your creative project meetings on track and productive. Sometimes it’s easy to do so; sometimes it’s like pulling teeth out of a bear’s mouth. But with these three tips, I’m hoping you’ll have less trouble in the future. And if you’re already following these and still having trouble… well… chime in on the comments and say so and let’s discuss other possible workarounds.

Tip #1 – Always have an agenda

Some people actually still go into meetings without an agenda, believe it or not. I won’t even attend a meeting (unless I absolutely can’t avoid it) unless an agenda is provided in advance. The upfront agenda lets participants plan and prepare so that the meeting ends up being at least two to three times more productive than it would otherwise be. This may seem logical to most of us, but as I said – there are still plenty of individuals out there who are scheduling meetings without sending out agendas in advance.

Tip #2 – Start and end on time

This one is critical to your long-term attendance figures. The creative team leader or project manager who consistently starts and ends his meetings on time will have better attendance figures because attendees know they aren’t going to be sequestered for three hours when they walk into a scheduled one hour meeting. And they know the first 30 minutes isn’t going to be wasted waiting to get started. If you have latecomers, that’s their problem…don’t stop the meeting to catch them up. If you do, you’re just enabling.

Tip #3 – Follow up after the meeting with notes

This will take extra effort on your part, but can pay back huge dividends. By following up with some notes after the meeting to all attendees, you can be sure that everyone is on the same page – and also get corrections to your own notes from attendees because there is no guarantee that you heard everything correctly. Here’s what I do… I take the original agenda and revise it with my own notes including any assignments and deadlines that were agreed to or discussed. I then send that out to everyone in attendance and those who didn’t make it but were invited and also likely someone higher up with a vested interest in the project and meeting, and I request that they send back any updates within 24 hours (by ‘x’ time tomorrow). If revisions come back, I make one final update and send back out to everyone one more time as a final set of meeting notes. Everyone then knows the outcomes, agrees it’s all correct, and we’re all on the same page. Win-win-win.

Summary

These are three of my key meeting tips. What are your tips for keeping your creative project team and client meetings on track and productive? What has worked and what hasn’t worked? Please share and let’s discuss.

 

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