We’ve all attended a meeting that runs long, has no agenda, or ends without action items. As Executive Assistants, it’s often up to us to plan and execute successful meetings for our executives and their teams. How can we help make these meetings be a better use of everyone’s time? Here are 5 tips to help set up your team for great meetings.
1. Determine Whether a Meeting is Necessary
An effective EA will have a clear vision of what to prioritize to help their executive or organization move forward, and be able to share those insights. Before scheduling a meeting request, ask yourself: Does the purpose of this meeting align with my executive’s or organization’s priorities right now? Is this meeting pivotal in reaching an organizational goal? If not, suggest a brief call or an email update instead. By doing this, you will help protect everyone’s time and set a precedent for holding meetings only when they are truly necessary.
2. Determine the Purpose of the Meeting
Meetings should have a clear purpose. This will make it easier to determine who really needs to attend and what exactly needs to be discussed. Defining the purpose of a meeting also helps others make the best use of their time. They can decide whether their attendance is really necessary, or if they can share their thoughts at another time.
Pro Tip: Confirm meeting attendance prior to the meeting date. If a required participant is unable to attend, it may be best to reschedule.
3. Schedule Shorter Meetings
When meetings run longer than they should, groups tend to become unfocused and less productive. Consider the purpose of a meeting to determine how much time needs to be set aside for it. When appropriate, you may suggest scheduling a shorter 30-minute meeting rather than the standard 60-minute meeting. Save longer meetings for more strategic conversations that should not be rushed.
Pro Tip: Include a wrap-up section at the end of the meeting agenda. This will allow participants to share any final thoughts and ensure that the meeting ends on time.
4. Keep It Focused
Create a clear agenda and share it before the meeting to help keep the meeting focused. Be sure to share the agenda and any other required materials at least 3-4 days in advance to allow participants sufficient time to prepare their thoughts. Any required pre-work should also be clearly outlined. When given enough time to prepare, teams can spend more time discussing ideas and maximize the time they have together.
Pro Tip: Create a space on the agenda for notes to encourage participants to jot down questions that may take the meeting off track and can be addressed at a later time.
5. Follow up With Key Points and Action Items
Follow up within 24 hours and send participants a brief summary with key points from the meeting, as well as any action items that arose from it. If known, state when the next meeting will be held.
These tips can help you create a better process to have great meetings and set your team up for success, resulting in a happier and more productive team.