Our fourth part for tips on chairing meetings is focussed on the agenda. This document can provide the skeleton of a meeting, its time keeping and its focus. However there are several items on the agenda that are worthy of note.
We already suggested in an earlier tip that agenda items can be timed but what about items that can drag on and on?
Reviewing the minutes of previous meetings can include items that some meetings seem to take forever over. This is a matter of discipline and it worth confirming that any corrections should be dealt with before the meeting rather than during it. It is also worth separating the confirmation of the minutes from the matters arising/actions from previous minutes. Splitting them means that the first becomes a straight administrative vote and the latter can be a brief mini agenda update. It is also worth identifying those actions that are part of the main agenda of the current meeting rather than going over twice.
It is worth identifying the proposed outcome of each agenda item within the agenda. It focusses the mind for people and helps to keep each item short. For example an item can be updates, discussions or decision items to name a few. If a matter requires a decision and people realise that it is not an open discussion then one can focus on key points rather than trivia.
Finally AoB, or Any other Business. This should not be a method where items can be shoehorned into the meeting ensuring the meeting goes on well past its allocated time. Items should be ideally short and if they appear to warrant further discussion there is no reason not to defer them until a future meeting. If the item was that important, it should have been added to the agenda right at the start of the meeting. The AoB can also be used as part of the closing of a meeting but more on that next week.
We bring our chairing a meeting tips to a close next week.