Monday, September 25, 2006

Taking a good minutes to the meeting

Business meetings may be conducted formally or informally, depending on the company and the circumstances.

First obtain the meeting agenda, minutes from the last meeting, and any background documents to be discussed. Get a person to minutes the meeting as taking minutes does not participate in the meeting or consider using a tape recorder to ensure accuracy.

Write minutes of the meeting of the name of the persons attened, the date, the time and the place where the meeting held.

Circulate a sheet of paper for attendees to sign. As this can also help identify speakers later in the meeting. If the meeting is an open one, write down only the names of the attendees who have voting rights. Check who arrives late or leaves early so that these people can be briefed on what they missed.

Write down items in the order in which they are discussed in the minutes to the meeting and record the motions made and the names of the persons. Also the motion adopted or rejected.

Avoid writing down the details of each discussion. You do not need to record topics irrelevant to the business at hand. Taking minutes is not the same as taking dictation.

Wish and welcome them before the meeting and thank them after the meeting

Thursday, September 14, 2006

minutes to a good meeting

Have you ever wondered what exactly is up with minutes to a meeting. A minutes to a meeting is to summarize the discussion, capturing key points and decisions reached. When someone takes on an assignment, a deadline is set, or other important agreements are reached, make sure to record them. This will serve as a reminder when the minutes are read later on.

Here are some points for a minutes to a good meeting.
Separate fact from opinion. Facts are objective and indisputable; opinions are personal views.They serve as a record of decisions and details when people's memories fail or when they disagree. They remind people of assignments they've taken on and deadlines they need to meet. They inform those not present of what happened at the meeting. They give future members of the organization a way to build on past successes and avoid reinventing the wheel.

Everyone knows an agenda leads to an effective meeting. Yet, many people "save time" by neglecting to prepare an agenda. Invite only those who can contribute to achieving your goals for the meeting. These are the results you want to obtain by the end of the meeting.

Write out your goals before the meetings. They should be so clear, complete, and specific that someone else could use them to lead your meeting. Also, make sure they can be achieved with available people, resources, and time. Specific goals help everyone make efficient toward relevant results.

Realize that a meeting is a team activity. Save tasks that require a team effort for your meetings.

It might be a good time to write down the main points covered above. The act of putting it down on paper will help you remember what's important about minutes to a meeting.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

minutes to a meeting : How Ducks Hold Meetings

It's true.

Ducks hold meetings in the park. And these quacky meetings have remarkable similarities to business meetings (held in conference rooms, for example).

Here's what they do.

1) No one pays attention to anyone.

Every duck is looking in a different direction. Most don't even appear to be part of the meeting. And none of them are watching the duck who is quacking. But they are all there because ducks have to know about everything that is happening in the park.

2) Ducks deliver lengthy monologues.

Expect to hear: "Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack."

Sure, this may last only half a minute but that's a long time for a duck with an attention span of five seconds. It's useful, however, because during this monologue the other ducks forget what they were going to say. So they begin quacking about something else.

It sounds like:

"Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack."

Certainly, this is a pointless discussion.

3) More than one duck quacks at the same time.

Research on duck social dynamics has shown that this occurs because a) none of the ducks pay attention to the quacker, b) none of the ducks care about what the quacker is quacking, and c) none of the ducks have manners.

4) The meeting seems to lack organization.

This may take some careful study because of the similarities to meetings held by people. Nevertheless, it's true. The ducks started this meeting without a goal or an an agenda. As a result, ducks never know when a meeting has ended.

5) Ducks come and go throughout the meeting.

Since nothing is being accomplished, it doesn't matter when you arrive or leave. Some ducks simply walk through a meeting while offering a few thoughtful quacks.

6) No one seems to be in control.

Without a goal or an agenda, any duck can run the meeting. And they do. Sometimes the duck who started the meeting has left to attend another meeting. But the rest of the ducks remain, quacking away.

7) There are no minutes.

Here the ducks show unexpected wisdom. Since they accomplish nothing, there is no reason to write about it.

Second News Flash. People can hold more effective meetings than ducks. Visit my web site to find out how.

by Steve Kaye

minutes to a meeting : How A Facilitator Helps Your Hold Effective Meetings

A facilitator adds value to your meeting by preparing the agenda, conducting the meeting, and writing minutes. All of these services free you to work on other tasks while getting the job done properly.

A professional facilitator will help you save money by holding a shorter meeting. The most expensive part of a meeting is the labor cost of the participants. Estimate this cost for your last meeting by multiplying the duration of the meeting by the number of participants by their payroll cost. (I've seen groups waste over $50,000 on a single bad meeting.)

A facilitator will help you get real results. For example, years ago, a group held three full-day meetings trying to resolve a difficult issue. Each of these meetings broke down after hours of painful arguing, bickering, and complaining. Then they hired me. My meeting lasted five hours and produced a list of realistic solutions, ranked in priority of their applicability.

A facilitator does more than watch people talk. A skilled facilitator knows how to apply creative thinking, problem solving, and decision making tools within a meeting. These help the group make methodical progress toward agreements, decisions, and solutions. And they produce results that everyone will support.

A skilled facilitator is an expert on business. Thus, a facilitator knows how to take your group through the steps that produce a realistic plan that accomplishes your business goals.

A facilitator frees you to participate in your meeting. It is impossible to facilitate and participate in a meeting because facilitation is a full time job.

by Steve Kaye

minutes to a meeting : Whom Do You Invite to a Meeting?

The success of your next meeting depends upon whom you invite. Here's what to consider.

1) Invite only people who can contribute to the meeting. Spectators bog down the process.

2) Avoid filling the meeting with allies as a show of force. This intimidates your "opponent," which can result in counter attacks, retaliation, or false cooperation.

3) Avoid inviting people because they would feel offended if left out. A meeting is a business activity, not a party. You can always ask the person to choose between watching others work in a meeting or being left to work on tasks that contribute to raises and promotions.

4) Be sure to invite the stakeholder (the person who owns the issue). This person is a valuable resource in finding solutions.

5) Make sure the opponents to issues attend your meetings. They can help you find equitable solutions that they will support. Without them, any results that you develop are likely to prove useless.

6) Invite key participants with minor roles to only the part of the meeting where they can contribute. Schedule these parts of the agenda at the beginning of the meeting or when you resume after a break.

7) Invite spectators for good reasons. For example, you may invite a new employee to learn about an issue; you may include members of other organizations to win empathy for your needs, you may invite an outsider to catalyze creative thinking.

8) In general, meetings that are held to make plans, seek solutions, or reach agreements work best when eight to twelve people attend.

9) Any number of people can attend parties, social meetings, lectures, or demonstrations.

by Steve Kaye

minutes to a meeting : Making Meetings Work: 9 Tips

“I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them.” E.V. Lucas

1. Have an agenda. Start out with an agenda handed out to the appropriate people at least 72 hours in advance, listing time, date, and place of meeting.

2. Set ground rules. Let everyone know at the beginning of the meeting that you specifically plan to stick with the allotted time frames and topics in the agenda. This is the key to running meetings that don't go overtime and yet get results. Also, if the meeting is short, sweet, and productive, it will positively affect people's attitudes about future meetings.

3. Appoint a timekeeper. Make an announcement ahead of time stating exactly how many minutes each person is given to speak or share ideas. Appoint an individual as timekeeper and literally give that person a “timer” that goes off if someone runs overtime. This is beneficial in brainstorming sessions if someone goes off on tangents, or monopolizes the meeting.

4. Appoint a meeting secretary. Appoint a secretary who will write down the minutes, what was discussed in the meeting, and distribute this to everyone within 48 hours of the meeting ending.

5. List meeting assignments. In the agenda, state exactly “who” is doing what. For instance, “John Smith, Customer Satisfaction Report, 9:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.” List it as such in the agenda. Again, announce at the beginning of the meeting that you plan to stick specifically within the given time frames. This will set the tone for the entire meeting.

6. Coffee and refreshments. If certain individuals are responsible for bringing refreshments to the meeting, list their names in the agenda as well. This will serve as a reminder to them in addition to letting everyone know that food will be served. In my workshops, managers often tell me that “nothing boosts morale or team building better than free food in a meeting.”

7. Begin and end the meeting on time. Nothing reduces morale like a one hour meeting that ends up lasting two hours. The biggest complaint I hear from my participants about their organization’s meetings is that their meetings “start late, and usually run way over time.” When I’m about to begin a training workshop at a company, one thing I often hear is, “In our organization, meetings start late, so don’t be surprised if people aren’t on time.” Employees become conditioned to think it’s acceptable not to be punctual. Also, end the meeting on time. Better yet, end early. People’s attitudes will change if they start attending meetings that are short, productive and get results.

8. Assist each presenter with their audio-visual equipment. To reduce nervousness, arrange to arrive early and help any speakers ahead of time with their equipment. Nothing minimizes nervousness about public speaking like being prepared. One central skill to effective leadership development is to ensure a smooth running meeting. You want to look professional and in control.

9. Summarize the meeting. As stated earlier, when the meeting adjourns, follow up with a summary and send to all appropriate people within 48 hours. This serves as a reminder of what was discussed, and it’s also beneficial if you have “difficult” people who frequently say, “I don’t remember that being talked about in the meeting.” This way you can refer back to the minutes.

Lastly, lots of managers and team leaders tell me if you really want an effective 15 or 20 minute meeting, consider taking the chairs out of the room. Give everyone clip boards to write on, along with paper and pens. Standing for long periods of time is uncomfortable. This helps the meeting stay on track…fast!

“The speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack.” Robert Orben

by Colleen Kettenhofen

Sunday, September 03, 2006

minutes to a meeting : How To Have a Perfect Meeting part 2

Perfect Meeting Key #4: Consider The Cost

If people at the meeting are being paid, then the meeting is costing you the sum of their salaries. Consider the cost of a meeting before inviting people, or having it at all. If you have 5 people whose salaries are $25 per hour at a meeting, then that meeting costs you $125 per hour. Is this the best way to spend this money?

Perfect Meeting Key #5: Only Have A Meeting If You Have To

Often a meeting isn’t really necessary. Consider the following questions before scheduling a meeting:

• Is the meeting just for distribution of information? If so, can it be done via email or printed documents?

• Is most of the discussion going to be between just two people? If so, let them have a meeting and report the results to everyone else.

• Do you have clear goals for the meeting? If not, either figure out what you want, or don’t have a meeting.

Perfect Meeting Key #6: If You’re The Leader, Then Lead

Assuming you are the leader of the meeting, then be prepared to do just that.

• It is your job to make sure that the participants stay focused on topics that bring the meeting closer to the its goals.

• It is your job to keep the meeting moving along so it will be completed in the needed timeframe. Often, there is always more that can be discussed. After the most relevant information has been discussed, a good leader will move the meeting on to the next phase.

• It is your job to tactfully counter people who get off track, or use emotional tactics to manipulate the meeting. Such tactics include:

o Dominating – Being aggressive in tone or language such that more shy people will not express their true opinion.

o Rambling – Talking on and on about a topic in a way that is not constructive. This wastes time and makes others just want to do whatever is quickest to end the meeting (not necessarily what is best).

o Anger – Some people will have emotional outbursts when a meeting doesn’t go their way. It is simply an adult tantrum. It is often used to manipulate others into ending a meeting early or conceding on a decision.

• It is NOT your job to have all the answers or to take all the actions.

• It IS your job to make sure that decisions are made based on facts, and that those people who need to take actions know who they are and what they are going to do.

Perfect Meeting Key #7: Finish On Time

People want to participate in meetings, and get more out of them if they are brief and to the point. Keep them on time by beginning and ending on time. You are the leader and this is your responsibility. If other people don’t take it seriously, this sets the tone for the whole meeting. When the time is half over, make sure you are halfway through the material. If you need more time, make it a formal decision to either continue for a specified amount of time, or to adjourn until another time.

Remember, you will often not cover all the details that people have in mind to talk about. This is okay. Use the 80/20 rule and move on. (80% of the work gets done with 20% of your time and effort. The remaining 20% will take 80% of your time and energy. Focus on that which nets you the greatest results.) At some point, it’s just time to move on.

Overall, meetings can be a very effective tool in business. Be sure to use them as such. When underused or overused, they lose their value. If you have specific questions about your meetings, feel free to email me at

By Al Lipper

minutes to a meeting : How To Have a Perfect Meeting part 1

Many business owners and managers seem to fall into one of two categories. Either they dislike meetings because they always seem to drag on senselessly forever, or they think meetings are so unproductive, they simply avoid them.

Over the years, I’ve spent many hours in both productive and unproductive meetings. As I sift through this history, I’ve been driven to improve meetings both in organizations I’ve led, as well as for those my clients are in charge of. Through I combination of experience and research, I’m going to provide a summary of what I have found makes a meeting not only effective, but also a positive (and brief) experience. I’ll present this in the form of the Keys to a Perfect Meeting.

Perfect Meeting Key #1: Know Your Goal(s) For The Meeting

First, know what the meeting is for. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But how many times have you been to a “Staff Meeting” where you left wondering what the point of it was? Write down the goal or goals on a printed agenda, even if it’s just a few lines. Make sure that everyone at the meeting has a copy of the agenda. This keeps you on track, lets everyone else know what the meeting is intended to accomplish, and it also lets you bring other back on track without them feeling like it’s personal. Instead, you just acknowledge the value of what they bring up, but ask if the meeting could be kept on the items on the agenda for the time being (suggest that their concern can be addressed later).

Perfect Meeting Key #2: Know What Kind Of Meeting It Is

There are four basic type of meetings:

• Information Exchange – These are meetings where one person has information to share with many others. Don’t have more people at the meeting than need to participate in the information exchange.

• Problem Solving – These are meetings where there is some problem that needs to be resolved. The people at this meeting should be the ones who have skills for solving the problem or have a strong interest in it being resolved. Avoid including people “just because they might want to know.” When we involve people who don’t have the big picture, it often just gets them stressed and irritated. They become a secondary consequence of the problem, rather than a part of the solution.

• Decision Making – You should leave these meetings with decisions and clear direction. People at these meetings should be those who have knowledge needed to make the decision effectively, or who need to be informed of such decisions. Again, avoid excess people.

• Brainstorming – These are creative meetings which generally do not result in any concrete decisions being made. They are a place for ideas to be freely shared, without judgment. Have people there whose roles make them likely to offer constructive ideas based on education or experience. Everyone has ideas – make sure to only include those people who have relevant experience that make their ideas likely to be based on practical knowledge.

Perfect Meeting Key #3: Invite The Right People, Don’t Invite The Wrong People

People who should be at a meeting are:

• Those who have information to share based on position, education or experience. For example, a bookkeeper sharing the monthly financial summary.

• Those who have advice to offer. For example, if you’re considering selling a new type of products and one of your staff used to work at a place that sold them.

• They are responsible for implementing an action decided on at the meeting. For example, a teacher who will be teaching a new class.

By Al Lipper

minutes to a meeting : 10 Tips for Better Participation in Meetings

A meeting can be led (or misled) from any chair in the room. Here's how to make sure that you add value to your next meeting.

1) Focus on the issue. Avoid stories, jokes, and unrelated issues. These waste time, distract focus, and mislead others. Save the fun for social occasions where it will be appreciated.

2) Take a moment to organize your thoughts before speaking. Then express your idea simply, logically, and concisely. People are more receptive to ideas that they understand. Long, complex explanations always work against you.

3) Use positive comments in the meeting. Negative comments create defensive reactions that distract from your goals.

4) If it is your meeting, ask a facilitator to lead the group through major solution finding activities. This frees you to participate in them and gives responsibility for keeping order to an impartial party.

5) Test your comments by asking, "How does this add value to our work?" If you sense it subtracts, keep silent or jot down the idea. This frees your to think about what others are saying, and that idea may be more appropriate later.

6) Use structured activities. These process tools ensure equitable participation and systematic progress toward results.

7) Respect others. Different views force us to think. After all, if we were all the same, they would need only one of us.

8) If you notice that you are speaking more than anyone else in a meeting, take a rest. You are either dominating the meeting with monologues or conducting a conversation with a minority of the participants. In either case, you're preventing the participants from working together as a team.

9) When voting give the participants veto power over ideas they strongly oppose. This avoids sabotage or partial support from people who were forced to accept decisions that harm them.

10) Rescue wayward meetings by challenging seemingly unrelated comments. Ask, "How does that contribute to the issue?"

by Steve Kaye