Backpack to Briefcase: The Do’s and Don’ts of Staff Meeting Prep

Oh, the dreaded staff meeting. Something we all look forward to? Not so much. How can we make meetings better? More efficient? An event we don’t dread? Here are some do’s and don’ts for meeting etiquette.

  • Have a clear agenda. If you are the meeting organizer, be sure to have an agenda with clear start and end times. If your meeting is supposed to end at 2 p.m., end on time, even if you have to carry over items to another meeting. Reach out to attendees to determine any additional topics that should be on the agenda. Getting input allows everyone to be a contributor.
  • Determine meeting location. Will the meeting be in a conference room? In someone’s office? Be sure that the location is reserved in advance and participants are aware of the location.
  • Employ an icebreaker. If the meeting attendees are from different organizations or different areas of the company, an icebreaker should be considered. Have attendees do an introduction and share something about themselves.
  • Implement “ground rules.” Ask attendees to put away cell phones and turn off their ringers. Some other guidelines might be, “arrive on time,” “no side conversations,” “come prepared,” “there are no bad ideas,” “have an open mind,” “everyone should participate,” “treat everyone with respect,” “stay on topic,” “one speaker at a time – no interrupting,” and so on. The group should determine the ground rules and agree to follow them.
  • Know the desired meeting outcome. Is there an item that needs to be voted upon? An issue for group consensus? A topic for discussion or brainstorming? A final decision? Whatever the outcome needed, be sure that it is clear on the agenda and that participants are aware of the result sought so the meeting has closure.
  • Don’t hold unnecessary meetings. Be sure that all items on your agenda are required. For example, there is no reason to have an in-person meeting for issues that can be resolved via email or a quick phone call. Just because you have always had a staff meeting at 4 p.m. every Monday doesn’t mean you must continue the practice. Your staff will appreciate it.
  • Be prepared to report on your assigned tasks. Come to meetings ready to provide updates on agenda items. Offer a handout of your update if possible so meeting attendees will not need to take notes of your report. If you are the meeting host, come prepared with slides or handouts to make it easy for attendees to follow
    the agenda.
  • Review follow-up tasks and assignments. Immediately following your meeting, send out a summary review the decisions made, assign follow-ups and note items for discussion at a future meeting. Then distribute the minutes so that participants can start working on their
    assigned tasks.
  • Have fun! Most meeting participants would say staff meetings are not “fun,” but you can change that. During introductions, have participants share something fun about themselves, maybe a story or recent success. Remember that food brings people together. Show a video related to your meeting topic. Play upbeat music as people assemble. Get attendees out of their seats, maybe to brainstorm in groups. Use games that help lead to decision-making. If your staff is enthusiastic and engaged in the meeting, it may just help you get the results you need.

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