I have to rush. I have just a few minutes to write this post. My day has been packed solid with back-to-back-to-back meetings.

Do you have days like this too? It means that you do your work after hours, when you should be watching Star Trek reruns from Netflix. (TMI?)

Meetings 101 will cover pre-meeting topics, such as deciding if you should even have a meeting (this post), to preparation, agendas, and actions. I’ll also cover the technology that will help you conduct meetings – roundtable, video, live meeting and communicator, Outlook, OneNote, and meeting workspaces.

First things first. Do you really need to meet?

We've all seen ‘screensaver eyes’ in meetings. Your co-workers and customers are just as beleaguered with meetings as you are – none of us have enough time. I read that 39% of people admit to falling asleep in meetings. And the other 61% wish they had.

On the other hand, I’ve skipped meetings that I should have been at. Deciding when to hold a meeting is a first step in Meetings 101.

Questions to ask yourself before scheduling a meeting –

1. What is the purpose of this meeting? Here are some purposes that might require a meeting:

  • Achieve consensus (unless it is simple, just send email with voting buttons)
  • Decide on or evaluate an issue
  • Sell your idea/product/service
  • Training opportunity
  • Media exposure
  • Gain acceptance of an idea
  • Brainstorm ideas

2. Is this meeting necessary at this time and with these people? Some reasons to kill the meeting might be:

  • This is a recurring meeting and there is nothing new to say
  • Nothing would be gained or lost by cancelling the meeting
  • There is no clear agenda
  • Key stakeholders are not able to attend
  • Other issues make this meeting irrelevant
  • An alternate method of communication would be more efficient (email, discussion forum, team site, Groove)

3. Who needs to be at this meeting? Part of holding a good meeting means having the right people there. First, make a list of everyone you think should be there. Here are some things to ask yourself when reviewing that list:

  • Does this person have decision making power or influence on this issue?
  • Who are the 3 most critical people in this meeting? (Can you eliminate anyone outside that list?)
  • What will this person contribute to the meeting?
  • If you make a decision in the meeting, and a certain someone isn’t there, will that come back to haunt you?

That should get you started. Next week I’ll cover preparation & running a meeting, plus some technology options for you. Please add comments if there is something you want me to cover.

Suzanne