It’s difficult to find a more effective meeting than one that has been through the bookending process. And though that may sound uber literary in nature, I assure you that is really more of a time management and preparation trick that will save you valuable time and effort in the long run. To put it more simply, these are your “before” and “after” meetings.
- Gather everything you need, including a checklist of all individuals who will be joining the meeting.
- Review the space you will be using, and ensure that logistics have been covered. This can be anything from “Who’s bringing the coffee?” to “Who is in charge of A/V and/or running interference if an issue arises?”
- Make sure that your team is aware of the time allotted for this particular meeting, and agree that you will not go over. (When deciding on the length of presentations, remember, it’s always a good idea to dismiss five minutes early and give some time back, as clients view this as a free gift, and everyone loves free gifts!)
- Less is more. When you have a time allotment arrange your content so that it is 2/3rds of the total time allotted. It's not unusual for someone presenting at a meeting to try to cram in as much content as possible to get your message across. The truth is, less is more.
- Develop an agenda, then review your agenda, possibly using your revisiting chart. The agenda is key, assuring that everyone stays on task and that all that the client or potential client hopes to achieve or gain is accomplished. (During this time, it’s a good idea to review roles and responsibilities of each team member as the responsibilities appear
- Set your desired outcomes. It is important that all who are a part of the meeting or presentation are aware of the goals. This assists in keeping everyone focused on the goal, and reduces the likelihood of team members straying from the topic.
- Time check with your client if it's a client meeting. State the originally planned time, "so we schedule this for 30 minutes, are you still good with that." If the client agrees then it's difficult for them to try to exit early. If they don't agree then you can readjust to a new agreed time.
- Set up a space that allows for honest and productive feedback. The debrief should occur in an environment that encourages honest responses from all team members involved, and everyone present should be reminded of the common goal.
- At the end of the meeting, there should have been a call to action, seeing the client or potential client has given direction or a “deadline” of sorts, all in an effort to keep the process running smoothly and efficiently. Review the call to action in your follow up, making sure that all team members are following through with tasks.
- Review original objectives. During this meeting, your objectives should be visible to all, so that your feedback is focused, and everyone stays on task. This is the time that offers everyone the opportunity to consider whether or not your goals for the meeting were accomplished, or if there’s still a bit of fine-tuning to do.
- Recap and wrap up all that has been covered, and do so in a timely manner. All team members should leave encouraged and refocused, confident in their performance, and excited for the next round.
Bookending your meetings will do wonders for your team in that they will arrive at the presentations prepared and focused on the goal, while also ensuring that next steps are purposeful and target driven.