Arranging a Meeting
A: Some ideas:
- Make sure you have some gaps in your calendar between meetings – if necessary, book a slot for ‘me time’ when you can do things other than attending meetings
- Don’t volunteer to go to meetings that aren’t essential for your work
- Whenever you’re thinking of arranging a meeting, ask yourself “Is it really necessary?”
- Politely turn down meeting invitations if you need time for other things
- Discuss with your colleagues which of you needs to go to each meeting – try to avoid you all going to all meetings
A: Some ideas:
- If the meetings are for the whole team, suggest that some meetings should only have the relevant attendees and cut down whole-team meetings to once a week
- Suggest a schedule of, say, two meetings per week and agree with your manager that, barring emergencies, all matters will be held until the next scheduled meeting
- If your manager insists on frequent meetings, agree that each meeting will only deal with a specific topic – and try to stick to the appointed topic
A: Some ideas:
- Ask for an agenda, or at least a topic, before agreeing to attend. If the agenda / topic can be dealt with quickly, send an appropriate email response
- Ask your colleague to bundle several meetings into one longer meeting, and ensure an agenda is issued in advance
A: There are two aspects to this: the impact on the meeting’s subject and the impact on your personal situation. The former will take in e.g. if its really any trouble for you; if it can be moved; if you can join remotely; if you are there simply as a ‘cover all bases’ or actually have key input. The second will be a judgement on e.g. the boss has invited you and it would reflect badly if you refused; the session is time critical so your non attendance would be project impacting; you are essential at the session and again non attendance would be poorly received. In short you need to decide if you can manage this without too much effort or with some adjustments if its worth it to your image to turn it down. Only you know the style of your organisation/team to evaluate that.
A: Book well in advance! And ensure your manager knows that you need to meet, or if your manager’s calendar is organised by someone else, make sure that person knows your meeting request is important, and why it is important.
A: Step 1 is to work out who is really needed at the meeting – use an outline agenda as a guide, and take advice from colleagues
Step 2 is to try to find a date/time and venue when all the right people can attend. If this seems too far in the future, you may need to get creative: consider splitting the meeting so the right people can attend the relevant session; consider a time outside normal hours; or call on someone more senior to insist on attendance.
- Reschedule the meeting so you can hold it at a more suitable venue.
- If you can’t avoid the unsuitable venue (e.g. due to time constraints), keep the meeting as short as possible, get the key points resolved, and schedule another meeting at a more suitable venue when the rest of the agenda can be covered.
- Ensure a senior person is attending: this will encourage more juniors to see it is important
- Offer refreshments .. surprising how a cup of tea and a cake will up your attendance
- Try to get a venue that is as far as possible convenient to most attendees
- Pick a good time: just after lunch is a good one
A: Here are a few points that are likely to be relevant:
- Cultural differences are many-layered, from the superficial to people’s deepest assumptions and attitudes
- Different cultures can mean different attitudes to people, relationships, language, time, achievement and the environment – almost all the things that can affect meetings!
- Understanding cultural differences is the first and most important step in avoiding potential pitfalls
- Respecting cultural differences and developing empathy for other cultures (which necessarily includes a better understanding of your own culture) should enable you to work more effectively in cross-cultural environments
- There is no one best way organise and manage meetings
A: If it is necessary to invite people with a history of conflict, you would be advised to understand why their relationship is strained. Understanding their mutual conflict might well suggest a solution for how best to hold the meeting.
You may need to discuss the problem with them both beforehand (probably separately) in order to broker a tolerable way of working together at the meeting. You may also need to confront them about their behaviour, but this is only worth trying if you think that they have an interest and desire in resolving their differences.
A: For many meetings, the attendees are either self-selecting or follow from attendance at a previous meeting (with maybe a few minor changes).
If you are setting up a new meeting group, however, the selection of attendees can require careful consideration. Then you should look for the right blend of skills and experience, as you would when setting up any team. You may need to canvass opinions or ask for suggestions from colleagues.
Whether you’ve made the right selection will be shown once the new group has met – and you should be prepared to be flexible and potentially adjust the attendance if the group is to continue for further meetings.
A: In general, the meeting organiser should determine which app to use. Your organisation may also have some guidelines or standards that apply. If this still remains a problem for some attendees, then tactful negotiation is required – most people will be able to come to an agreement following a calm discussion.
A: Quite often when more junior people are invited to meetings with those senior in the hierarchy, the juniors benefit in terms of exposure and learning from the more experienced people.
Most senior people will make some allowances for the relative lack of experience of their junior colleagues and be supportive of their development. It therefore follows that such mixed hierarchy meetings will tend to run at the level of the most senior attendees.
A: If some attendees are not familiar with brainstorming, it is worth giving them a brief explanation with the invitation. It is also worth reminding everyone at the start of the meeting of the basic rules for brainstorming (freewheel; suspend judgement; the more ideas the better; capture every idea; and build on ideas previously proposed).
A: The biggest differences between in-person and virtual meetings (assuming the technology works well in the latter) are the difficulty in picking up body language cues, and the small time lags that can lead to (unintentional) talking over others in the virtual world. Allowances need to be made for these problems.
Hybrid meetings can be more problematic, as those in the room often carry on ‘as normal’ and forget to take account of their virtual colleagues. The chair therefore needs to pay special attention to the virtual attendees and ensure they can make full contributions.