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Making Sure Meetings Are A Good Use of People’s Time

Meetings can seem a necessary evil in schools. Often our days can feel like they are filled with back-to-back meetings. However, many staff complain that meetings aren’t a good use of their time.

Imagine if you walked away from every meeting feeling like it was a valuable use of everyone’s time. Macquarie University advocates for using the PODS acronym to ensure that meetings are purposeful and a good use of people’s time.

Clearly outline the purpose of the meeting
One of the biggest complaints people make about meetings is ‘not knowing why I’m here’. Giving people a clear meeting purpose allows them to prepare properly, participate fully and stay on track with the conversation.

What outcomes do you want to drive from holding this meeting?
If you’re not exactly sure what you’re trying to accomplish with your meeting, you won’t accomplish it. As the meeting organizer, it’s your responsibility to have clarity about what outcomes you want to drive and to let the meeting participants know what they are.

What decisions need to be made at the meeting?
Sometimes the decision might just be an endorsement to move ahead or to take / not take some kind of action. Sometimes it’s a bigger decision with people or financial implications. Whatever it is, spell it out and don’t leave the room before the decision is made.

Use the right structure, for the right outcomes.
There are many different ways to hold a meeting so it’s important to play your structure to achieve the right outcomes. From presentations, workshops, forums through to discussion-based meetings or project updates, make sure you choose the right structure and explain it from the outset.

Using the PODS structure to provide the agenda (or on the virtual invite) ensures that we have clarity about the meeting and should be given with sufficient notice (at least 24 hours) so that people contribute a considered response.

Invest time in the agenda
Ensure there is a clear agenda outlining the purpose and desired outcomes prior to the meeting.

Specify how attendees should prepare for the meeting
Pre-reads need to be provided in advance, and an expectation that participants will have read the documents and considered their responses.

Who needs to be there?
Ask yourself, do all of these people really need to attend?

Be efficient with your – one others’ – time
Consider scheduling half the time you usually would. Meetings are like accordions – they stretch to fit the allotted space.

Don’t start late
Value people’s time by starting on time. Don’t wait for latecomers; start on time.

Consider holding a stand-up meeting
Research indicates that groups who stand took around one third less time to make decisions.

Allocate key roles
Key people should lead the discussion of their topic. The chair’s role is to manage the discussion and endeavour to keep the conversation on track and leading to the intended outcome. At the conclusion of the meeting, it should be a specific person’s role to summarise the decisions that have been made and who will do what, as a result of the meeting.

Read more from Macquarie University here.