Message to Som Gollakota

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Woodinville, WA
Defining Scope of And Effectively Running A Meeting
March 16, 2009
Part 3 - Starting the Meeting
tep 1: Start the meeting On Time! 9:01 AM is not 9:00 AM. If you are hosting a teleconference, make sure the conference bridge is open at 9:00 AM for a 9:00 AM meeting. If it means that you have to open the bridge at 8:59 AM, so be it. Have a back up plan when possible (my 8:30 ran a few minutes over).
First Five Minutes: This varies on the total duration of the meeting - 30 minutes, one hour etc. Within first five minutes, gather the roll call to make sure you have all your key participants at the meeting. At the end of the roll call and start of the meeting, have the following information.
  • Who is at the meeting, and more importantly, who is not!
  • How critical is the presence of the absentee to successfully accomplish the goal of the meeting?
  • What areas can we cover without them? What areas can we not cover without them?
  • Does it make sense to continue the meeting without them?
Things pop up at the last minute. Something critical may have come up - such as their VP setting up an ad hoc emergency meeting, or a critical customer-impacting issue etc. Be sensitive to that possibility.
Second Five Minutes: Ask and answer the first three of the above questions aloud. The answer to the last question typically comes from the key contributors present, and provides the direction to the rest of the meeting. If the answer is negative, try to get in touch with absentees to bring them onboard. If you cannot reach them, or they cannot join in next five minutes, politely announce that we do not have quorum, apologize to the group, and state that you would be rescheduling the meeting to a later time. Close the meeting giving the attendees back their time. This shows the attendees that you respect their time.
Second Five Minutes - Alternate Scenario: If you have all the key contributors at the meeting in the first five minutes, the second five minutes go differently. Articulate the purpose, goal, and agenda of the meeting. Clarify who would be providing inputs on what subject (define roles). Give any background information required. Start the meeting.
  • Start meeting on time - on the dot!
  • Within first five minutes, roll call, identify who is missing, and their importance in driving toward the end goal of the meeting.
  • Within first 10 minutes, define the purpose, goal, and agenda for the meeting, clarify roles and start the meeting.
  • Within first 10 minutes, end the meeting if you know you cannot meet the goal (are we wasting time here?)