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IT Meetings - How To Run A Meeting

April 20, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 97

Is The Meeting Necessary?

A big part of running a meeting is to ask yourself, "Is the meeting really necessary?" Could you get the desired result from another method of discussion? Perhaps a phone call or two, or an email and a follow up phone call is sufficient to reach an agreement or to discuss a point - and can be done in far less time. If the meeting is not necessary, take an alternative course of action. If, however, the meeting is required, then by all means hold the meeting and follow some of these tips to make it an effective meeting.

What Type Of IT Meeting Is It?

Another question to ask yourself is, "What type of meeting is it?" Are you having the meeting to solve a crucial problem, such as an implementation issue or software support problem? Is it a brainstorming meeting to come up with a large amount of ideas on a topic? Is it a planning meeting, to decide the future work or plans for your team, for either the short or long term?

Answering this will help in setting up the IT meeting and make sure it is as good as it can be. Problem solving meetings, or action meetings, are usually quicker and are created with little notice, however brainstorming meetings can be larger and longer due to what happens in the meeting.

Consider Attendees Carefully - Only Invite Who Is Needed

If I had a dollar for every meeting I went to that I didn't need to be there for, or that someone else was there that didn't need to be, then I'd have a lot of dollars! You could think that inviting everyone who "may" be interested in the result of the meeting should attend. A more effective approach is to only invite those who either: • Need to provide input to the meeting • Able to make decisions on the outcome

Those who need to provide input to the meeting would depend on the type of meeting, but it could include people such as a technical team leader, a project manager, a business user representative, or a particular developer. The decision makers also should be there, as they are able to listen to all the information presented and make a decision on the actions to take.

If the meeting can be held with half the people that need to be there, it not only makes it a more efficient meeting, it may get resolved in a quicker time and reduce time wasted by non-essential attendees.

Write An Agenda And Send It Out

It's a good idea to prepare an agenda before each meeting and send it out to the attendees. An agenda doesn't need to be anything formal if you don't want it to be - it's just a list of the topics that are going to be discussed in the meeting. The reason this is done is so that attendees know what the meeting is about, what is being discussed, and they can do the appropriate research or work beforehand. It's also used in the meeting to "keep people on track" - one of the biggest time wasters in meetings is deviating from the original discussion. Having an agenda allows you, as the leader of the meeting, to suggest that the group move back to the items on the agenda.

If there is anything else that needs to be discussed that is relevant, it's up to you to let that discussion continue or set up a secondary meeting for it. Relevance and time constraints would be considered here.

Start On Time - And Don't Recap For Late Arrivals

Time is valuable. You've set up a meeting for a specific time and length with certain points to go over, and have the right people there. It's important to begin the meeting discussion on time. If people are running late to the meeting, don't wait for them to arrive. It may sound rude, or inconsiderate, but the meeting start time was set for a reason. It's also a good example to set - if you want to be involved in the meeting, then you should arrive on time.

You also shouldn't recap for people who are late to the meeting. This only encourages late arrivals. When you finish a meeting, you should send out a list of discussion points (mentioned below) and they can get their information from that.

Take Minutes and Action Items

Taking minutes of a meeting is basically writing down the key points that are discussed or decided. The minutes can either be taken by yourself, or by another person at the meeting. There are pros and cons of either approach - taking them yourself ensures you get them down correctly, but you're often busy with running the meeting and too busy to take notes. This will come with personal preference.

Minutes are taken so that you have something to refer to when you need to take action on the meeting. They are used as your confirmation of the discussion points, and to send out to the attendees at the end of the meeting (more on this below).

Action items are essentially a list of things that need to be done, who is responsible for doing them, and in what time frame. These are also documented with the minutes and communicated to the attendees.

Summarise At The End Of The IT Meeting

Just as the IT meeting is concluding, you should summarise the discussion points to everyone in the room. Say them out loud - and confirm everyone agrees with them. If you're taking minutes (and you should be), then you can refer to these at the end of the meeting.

Doing this will ensure that you've all reached the same conclusion of the meeting and you all know what to do after it - by referring to the minutes and action items.

Additionally, you should send out the minutes and action items after the meeting. This could be done via email in whichever format is appropriate - you could type it straight into an email, or prepare a formal template. This will depend on what your team or company standards are.

Follow Up The IT Meeting Action Items

Once you've sent out the minutes and action items, the last stage is to follow up on them. It's good to set a list of things that need to be done by specific people, but this needs to be checked to ensure it gets done, and within the specified time period.

If you follow most, or all of these tips, you should find that your meetings are more effective, you get more decisions made and get more done, and less time is wasted.

Want more great information and tips on how to improve working in the IT industry? Check out my website -

Source: EzineArticles
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