!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Smart Meetings

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Smart Meetings

As far as I can tell, a tool for evaluating meetings that I came upon in Presentations magazine ten years ago, is no longer readily available. The tool is a quiz developed by Bernie DeKoven, founder of the now-defunct Institute for Better Meetings. This quiz deserves to live, so I'll summarize it in adapted form here.

The quiz asks you to evaluate your approach to meetings, using the following criteria:
  1. Access to your organization's networks — Do you enable online retrieval of information during your meetings?

  2. Reference to outcomes of previous meetings — Does everyone have access to previous meeting minutes, action items, status reports, etc., several days in advance?

  3. Computer-aided logistics — Do you use calendar software and electronic communication to set the time and place for the meeting?

  4. Agenda and handouts — Are the agenda, and at least a summary version of presentation charts, available several days in advance? Is the agenda developed with input from all concerned parties?

  5. Presentation cost — Is electronic storage and delivery used as fully as possible to avoid the expense of producing paper materials?

  6. Meeting date — Is the date set to ensure timely decisions, with anyone who can't attend in-person participating via some kind of teleconferencing?

  7. Action items — Are action items evaluated, synthesized, organized, approved, and kept visible throughout the meeting? Doing this enables adding ideas, challenging items, and agreeing on priorities. Before the meeting is over, are action items assigned and recorded?

  8. Use of the agenda — Are the agenda items addressed according to their priority, with high-priority items getting more attention than low-priority items?

  9. Consensus — Is care taken to consider contributions from everyone? Is consensus sought by identifying areas of agreement and exploring the reasons behind areas of disagreement?

  10. Decisions — Do participants model complex decisions using a spreadsheet or other planning tool, generate alternate solutions using what-if analysis, and then determine a final solution at the meeting?

  11. Leadership — Does the meeting leader act as a facilitator, encouraging collaboration, participation, and productivity?

  12. Meeting minutes — Are the minutes approved as they are developed? Are they distributed immediately after the meeting? Are all minutes retrievable from your organization's intranet?

  13. Participation — Does the leader poll participants at the close of the discussion of each agenda item to ensure all views have surfaced?

  14. Productivity — Does each meeting end with a summary report of action items and consensus decisions? Are the reports completed and distributed within a day?

  15. Questions and comments — Are questions and comments recorded? Are they stored with the presentation data? Are they cross-indexed by project? Do the action items that come out of the meeting include responding to any questions and comments that require immediate attention?

  16. Timeliness of information — Are presentations updated, as needed, so participants are seeing the most recent information?

  17. Verifiability — Can presenters retrieve online background data to support their conclusions and respond to questions? Can the group use online access to information to do on-the-fly research and combine it with their collective expertise to verify facts and confidence levels?

  18. Accountability — Do all action items have a person assigned to oversee follow-through? Are action items stated clearly, with completion dates set and specification of how the responsible person is to report back to the group?

  19. Alignment — Is everyone in agreement that the meeting minutes are accurate, so that there are no divergences in interpreting the decisions reached at the meeting?

  20. Follow-up — Does the meeting facilitator follow up with participants until action steps are completed?

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