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Woodinville, WA
Defining Scope of And Effectively Running A Meeting
March 18, 2009
Part 4 - During the Meeting
tep 1: Know the scope; Stay the course!
We defined the scope - Agenda. We defined the deliverable - Goal/Objective. We defined the roles of the attendees. We are all professionals and we know why we are here. Therefore, everything will go really smooth and within next 15 to 45 minutes, everything will be sorted out and we reach our goal, right? Chances are, No.
Typically, meetings go in more than one direction regardless of how straight forward the agenda and the goal are. Even teams and team meetings are comprised of individuals - Individuals having their own views and positions to drive to; Individuals representing organizations that have leaders with their focus areas that the meeting organizer is not aware of. Even if there is one attendee with clear understanding of and focus on the goal and the agenda of the meeting, I am safe. (S)he will lead the meeting to the goal/objective. What if there isn't one? Regardless, it falls on the meeting organizer to drive the meeting to a successful conclusion - meeting the goal.
Here is what we can do. When items are raised by the attendees that do not belong in the agenda or do not aide in driving to the goal/objective, listen! Yes, listen - for a couple of minutes, to understand the items/issues being talked. Make a quick note of the items, move them into a parking lot for discussion at a later time, and move on.
If there are multiple items that threaten to derail the meeting, take half a minute to recap the agenda and goal of the meeting one more time, assure the group that their concerns would be addressed in a separate meeting, and bring back the focus to the meeting. If everything else fails, and some key players believe we cannot make progress without resolving collateral issues they are bringing up, then depending on how much time you have left, quickly change the agenda of the meeting to discuss and resolve the collateral issues, make that announcement, release attendees that are not required in the meeting with assurance that the original meeting will be rescheduled, and move forward with the new agenda.
After all, it is your meeting and your agenda. It is your ownership and accountability to not waste the attendees' time and drive the meeting successfully.
  • Know the scope, stay focused, stay the course!
  • Quickly assess, gain consensus to, and move important out-of-scope items to the parking lot for a later discussion.
  • Recap the agenda, if necessary, to bring the focus back to the meeting, and take back the control.
  • If everything else fails, adapt. Realign the scope/agenda/goal of the meeting with a note to reschedule the original meeting to a later date.