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Steps to Take Before a Meeting Invite

This is a 3 part series that discusses online meetings best practices. Part one, this article, will talk about steps to take in preparation for the meeting. Part 2, will explore best practices to have during the meeting. Part 3, will lay out an individual’s responsibilities after the meeting. Make sure to check each short article to get the whole picture.

              Meetings are an essential part of running a business, it allows for the improvement of communication, the sharing of ideas, discussion of issues and others. It serves as a pillar to the overall success of businesses, however, many teams have difficulties maximizing its benefits. In this article, we will look at steps that can be taken to ensure that only relevant stakeholders are added to the meetings, ensuring that the business/teams can maximize their productivity.

Why should I think twice before adding someone to a meeting?

             Businesses have a finite amount of time that employees can use, therefore, it is essential for them to balance employee’s productivity in different areas of the business, weighting necessary tasks and training. The decision to bring an employee to a meeting has a material impact on the business since time is diverted from other productive tasks. Employees can also find themselves asking “Why am I in this meeting?” or adding comments to the conversation that are not relevant, potentially decreasing meeting productivity. By ensuring that only relevant stakeholders are added to a meeting, the business can maximize its value. Below are some areas to consider:

Meeting Relevance

              Not all employees in a project needs to be in all the meetings. For example, it may not be relevant to have a network specialist for exploratory talks about the marketing of a new product, although they may be important at a later time when the business decides whether the current network can handle the new product. Some points to consider area:

  • How am I deciding who to invite to the meeting?
  • What type of meeting do I expect to have?
  • Is that person’s expertise relevant to the meeting we are about to have?
  • Is the context of this meeting going to be relevant to him in the future? If yes
  • Can this information be transferred via minute meetings instead?”

Meeting Size

              Different meeting sizes can have different effects depending on the type of meeting being held. Small team meetings (3-6 members) for example, may work best in a status update scenario or team building meetings. Information sharing meetings may work best, on average, with large size attendees (15+ members) since the information can be disseminated to a large crowd all at once, decreasing the costs associated with the presenter. At the same time, information sharing meetings may require smaller sized groups to maximize the retention of information. Considering the meeting’s needs can help you maximize its benefits.

RACI Method

              To determine if an individual should be in the meeting or not, it can be valuable to consider the RACI chart (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed). An example of a RACI chart built in excel can be found on the Stanford University website.

              First, we should consider if the employee falls into the relevant major categories of RACI for that project meeting, then if a senior employee is responsible, accountable or needs to be consulted for that meeting, s/he should be added. 

              Secondly, it is important to consider whether the individual simply needs to be informed of the topics that happened in the meeting. In case of the latter, letting the employee decide to come to the meeting or not can be valuable, however, it is usually better not to add and simply send the meeting minutes for the person to read. In case the person does not fall into any of the 4 RACI areas, it very likely means he should not be in the meeting at all. 

              Lastly, keep in mind that adding or removing someone from a meeting may impact the team and individual’s morale. Further, remember that the higher the employee’s seniority, the busier s/he is likely to be, therefore, be mindful and respectful of his or her time.

              Written RACI charts should not be considered at all times. If a lot of time is spent building a digital RACI chart, it may be worth reconsidering the value proposition of the solution or whether to change the way you are approaching the matter.

Meeting Priority

              Different meetings may have different priorities for different individuals. Understanding that can help you better gauge when to add someone to a meeting and whether their absence is detrimental to the success of the meeting.

Conclusion

              The combination of relevance, size, RACI chart and priority is essential to deciding whether someone should be added to a meeting. This ensures that the meeting stays on point and maximizes its value to the business and relevant stakeholders. Inviting people to a meeting for the sake of inviting, without critically thinking about the individuals who you are inviting, may reflect bad on you and annoy your co-workers. Further, there are many cases where employers lose millions of dollars of productivity due to inefficient meeting practices, make sure that you are doing your part to maximize the business’ productivity.

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