|Dear Meeting Guru,
We've been trying to organize a marketing
meeting in-house for almost two months, but there are constant scheduling
conflicts among attendees. Since this meeting will consist of brainstorming,
evaluating alternatives and decision making, is there a way to gather
some of the info from people before the meeting? Can effective brainstorming
be done by people separately and the messages sent via e-mail? I
don't want to do it over a few days because I think people will
lose their momentum or become distracted from their usual workday.
Asking participants to contribute their information before the meeting is a
great way to improve the effectiveness of your meeting. Some people tend to
ramble on when they're in front of a crowd. Asking them to provide feedback
via e-mail will force them to condense their thoughts and solidify their position
before they enter the meeting room. Gathering and presenting information in
this way also helps people focus on the issue at hand, instead of being influenced
by one or two vocal participants.
Try eliciting suggestions from relevant participants a week prior to the meeting.
Once everyone has e-mailed you their ideas, send a second e-mail outlining each
person's position and ask participants to evaluate their colleagues' suggestions
before the face-to-face meeting. By the time you actually get participants in
the same room, they have the information they need to make a decision, so you
should be able to do so relatively quickly.
One danger with this meeting structure is that some people may not respond
to your request. To overcome this, you have to make it very clear that only
those people who respond to your request for information will be allowed to
participate in the final decision-making process. Most people hate feeling left
out when there's an important decision to be made, so this should ensure that
you get full cooperation!
I'm impressed with the thought you've given this meeting
and I hope that your colleagues appreciate your effort. As the wise philosopher
Confucius once said, "The Superior Man cares about virtue; the inferior
man cares about material things. The Superior Man seeks discipline; the inferior
man seeks favors." In other words, by dedicating time and effort into conducting
an effective meeting, you are superior. If your colleagues don't respond in
kind, they are revealing their insuperiority.
may good meeting karma always be with you.