“That way participants will know to be there on time, ready to rock and roll,” Richardson said.
Above all, meetings must be well-chaired, he said, with managers knowing when to go slow and fast or facilitate fast consensus.
Monica Wittrock, vice president of First American Title Insurance Co., is running a series of strategic planning meetings for her 200 employees, in groups of 30, at the Science Museum Oklahoma.
“Putting employees in an outside setting allows them, for a short period of time, to be who they'd like to be,” Wittrock said.
“I was absolutely amazed by the ideas — from entry-level employees to experienced managers — for ensuring our customers' needs are met, from things to do while waiting for their closing appointments to how to deliver their documents to them at the end of the process.”
Patti Neuhold, executive director of professional education at the University of Central Oklahoma, believes meetings aren't always the most efficient way to communicate messages.
“The important thing is to get the information to your target audience in their preferred style,” Neuhold said.
Alternative styles, she said, include server-based documents such as “Wikis” or the Microsoft Web application platform “SharePoint.”
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Tips for effective meetings
• Invite the right people. Excuse employees who have no stake in the business being discussed.
• Create agendas. They help meetings run more efficiently.
• Frame meetings with a question. Questions spark quick thinking and creativity.
• Limit meetings to 45 minutes. Allot specific time for each agenda item.
• Generate input. Allow and encourage the sharing of ideas.
• Get fast consensus. After all options are on the table, state your preferred solution, ask if all parties can accept it and, if so, discuss how to execute it.
• Keep action items on a server-based spreadsheet. It provides easy access for all.