Meetings cost time and money and therefore should be run in the most effective way. As we all know, many meetings are totally unnecessary and the reasons for that vary. It could be that they are simply part of a routine or just take a lot more time than necessary. The most important thing to realise about any meeting is whether it is needed. The biggest cost of running a meeting is the time attendees spend attending it. Added to the cost of the hourly rate of those attending could also include the cost of transportation and accommodation. Below are some practical steps to be followed to help you run effective meetings with the help of your virtual assistant.

Before the meeting:

  • Clearly define the objectives. The objective of the meeting will influence the number of attendees, the place of meeting, duration, etc.
  • Define the type and format of the meeting. The format of the meeting will depend on its objective. The format could be formal, informal, long, short, inside or outside the office, with/without a facilitator, etc.
  • Define the number of attendees, time and duration. In general, meetings should be scheduled during working hours, preferably in the morning. Avoid meetings during lunch time and at the end of the day.
  • Create an agenda. It should be as succinct as possible. An agenda should not be longer than one page and a copy should be available to everyone at the meeting.
  • Miscellaneous: Have stationary available, refreshments and test all the IT equipment before the meeting.
  • Other tips- always remember to confirm the attendance of all attendees. Always have an alternative date that you can fall on in case of a last-minute no-show or emergency. In certain meetings it might be worthwhile asking attendees for their opinions regarding the topics of discussion.

During the meeting:

  • Introduction. The meeting’s host should give a brief summary of the agenda and objectives of the meeting and confirm its expected duration.
  • Define priorities. Statistics show that attendees are at the peak of their concentration levels during the first and last 10 to 15 minutes of the meeting so make sure all the important decisions are made during this period.
  • Use time efficiently. If the meeting has an estimated duration of 90 minutes, it is important to include breaks. In general, these should not be longer than 10 minutes.
  • Efficiency control. It is important to stick to the important topics on the agenda and not allow the discussion to divert from the final objective of the meeting.
  • Closing. Always include an AOB section. Summarise the discussion and review the decisions. Provisionally schedule the next meeting.

After the meeting:

  • Approve the meeting minutes.
  • Circulate the meeting minutes within 24 hours.
  • Monitor progress of outstanding actions and decisions.
  • Establish the next meeting’s agenda.