Meetings are an integral part of our daily office routine. Software development is not a solo flight, we need to keep our clients as well as our fellow developers, designers, architects, team leads, and project managers informed and up-to-date about every important phase of the project.
There are several kinds of meetings for a project, like daily activity meeting (stand-up meeting), technical updates meeting, requirement gathering meeting, feedback meeting etc. The goal of any meeting is either to clearly convey your thoughts on the respective subject to the other party or to understand their point of view.
Meetings must be productive and shouldn’t waste time. Following are some steps that you can take for running an effective meeting:
Email the agenda of the meeting 24 hours in advance, if possible. The 24 hour window will provide effective time for both parties to research and prepare for the meeting. In case the time constraint is tight, the agenda must be clearly defined for the meeting when setting it up.
Arrive at least 5 minutes early. The meeting time set by both parties should be respected and to make the meeting effective, one should arrive at least 5 minutes early to the meeting place and settle in. This gives both the parties time to be ready and on schedule.
Start and end on time. The starting and ending time of the meeting should be always decided beforehand and if needed one should mention in the email about tentative time extension for the meeting. Once a meeting time is set, it should be started on time and all the parties should respect the timeline of the meeting. If there is a need to extend the meeting, one should first get the consent of all the parties before extending it, because there might be a chance that someone has other priorities or tasks lines up after the meeting.
Keep the meeting duration within 45 minutes. The average attention span of a person for a meeting or a presentation is around 45 minutes. Keeping it within this duration will ensure that the meeting is effective.
Come prepared. All the parties should be prepared for the meeting. The agenda should be set when setting up the meeting and thus everyone should know the nature and topic of the meeting beforehand.
Some other important points to consider are:
- No usage of cellphones during meetings. If you need to use a cellphone get yourself excused from the meeting.
- Bring paper and pen. Taking notes for future reference will enhance the effectiveness of the meeting.
- Follow up by email within 24 hours. To ensure the effectiveness of the meeting, one should follow up on the outcome or the minutes of the meeting and share all the relevant data.
- Stay on topic and be brief and concise. Participants should avoid side conversations and comments. Also, questions should be put in if necessary, but don’t jump ahead.
- Disagree but without being disagreeable. Respect others' views and challenge the ideas (if required) and not the persons.
Most importantly, don’t plan a useless meeting, use an e-mail to get the information to everyone instead. Use Skype when possible, to avoid time loss, even within the team.