12 Tips for Better Meetings: Part 2

Posted on Wed, Apr 27, 2016
12 Tips for Better Meetings: Part 2

By Sabrina Griffin, RN

This article is Part 2 of a two-part series. Read Part 1

For leaders, a lot of the work you do is accomplished in meetings. But, for many us, planning for meetings is close to last on our list of things to do. Unfortunately, a poor process for arranging, conducting and using meetings can result in a significant waste of time and effort.

So, how do we elevate the effectiveness of our meetings? As someone who relies on lean for process improvement in the hospital setting, I immediately looked to the principles and tools of lean to help improve my process for meetings. Applying lean methodologies such as value-stream mapping and 5S has helped me identify what brings value to meetings and how to standardize meetings so that they run most efficiently. Here are the last six tips to help you meet smarter, not longer.

7. Prioritization.

You’ve nailed your purpose, bullet points for your agenda and expectations for the team. You have your timing set appropriately and a time-keeper to keep everyone on track. So, why do I need to prioritize? What could go wrong?

Even with the best-made plans, the meeting may uncover unexpected topics that are critical to the primary purpose of the meeting. Be sure to prioritize the topics so that important decisions are made first and less urgent topics are covered time permitting.

Is this a recurring meeting? If so, be sure to table the lower-priority topics and bring them up at the next meeting.

8. Productivity.

Closely tied to the purpose of the meeting is the productivity of it. The question of the hour, or whatever time you have allotted for your meeting, is can we come to a conclusion at the end of this meeting? If we have effectively prepared for the meeting, invited the right people, and followed our process, chances are we should be able to arrive at a decision or other desired purpose.

How many times do you leave a meeting and feel that you accomplished nothing? That’s the kind of response that will make people not want to be involved in a meeting. Don’t let that be the case with your meetings. Have a plan for how this is going to culminate in a take-away the group can feel good about. Now, keeping in mind, there may not always be a consensus on every decision. But providing people the opportunity to weigh in, using a fair process where all interested parties have a say, and seeing the result unfold real-time still can give members a sense of satisfaction even if the decision didn’t go their way… this time.

9. Power.

A lot of good meeting time goes to waste because those involved in the meeting ultimately do not have the power to make or implement the group’s decision. Whether it’s a lack of authority, resources, budget or expertise, the inability to act on the next steps can paralyze the group, and all of the good ideas and plans for improvement go down the chute. So when planning your meeting, one of the first questions to ask is “Do we have the power to make a decision?” If no one in this group has the authority or can’t act on behalf of someone who does, your meeting will likely be a futile effort.

10. Permission.

Slightly akin to power is the question “Do we have permission?” In some cases, there are actions we have the ability to implement. But just because we “can” doesn’t necessarily mean that we “should.” Will this change have a legal impact on your organization? Are there others outside of your group who will be impacted by the change? If they have not been included in the meeting, do you at least have someone who can sign off on behalf of the other departments you may impact?

11. Projects.

We’ve finished the meeting. Now what? Who was assigned projects (or should have been)? Record the projects in the meeting notes and have the leader schedule dates to follow up on progress. Also, make sure everyone understands what success looks like for the project and what will need to happen before you can call the project completed.

12. Promotion.

You’ve made such great accomplishments and decisions that will help the organization, but none of this does any good if you don’t let people know. And don’t kid yourself. In these days of information overload and exorbitant competition for attention, telling people once is simply not enough. Plan on five to seven messages to make sure everyone knows about the changes. Not every message has to be the same either. The change may be the main focus of one announcement and the P.S. to another announcement days later.

Ultimately, lean methods along with the tactics shared here can help make meetings work better, saving you time, improving engagement and productivity and helping improve the quality of your work life.

Sabrina Griffin, RN, BSN, CEN, is the Divisional Director of Clinical Services in EmCare’s Alliance Group.

Sources and references: 

  • Studer Group article “How Cascading Information Creates Consistency” Posted April 21, 2013 by Quint Studer,
  • Association of American Medical Colleges, “Leadership Lesson: Tools for Effective Team Meetings - How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Team” by Yvette Pigeon, Ed.D., and Omar Khan, M.D., M.H.S.
  • Mind Tools “Running Effective Meetings - Establishing an Objective and Sticking to it”

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