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EAF Steps

  • Activity 1.1 - Initial process planning and determining stakeholder support
  • Activity 4.1 - Develop an operational plan and monitor its progress

Purpose

Completing nearly all steps of the EAF planning process will require meetings. These will include meetings between the EAF project team, internal meetings within the agency, meetings of stakeholders, and also meetings between the project team and key representatives of other stakeholders. The tips outlined here should improve the operation of these meetings which should assist the entire EAF planning process.

Overview

The distinction between meetings and workshops is not absolute but in general meetings will generally have a very clear predefined agenda with limited numbers of people involved (< 10) that are often dealing with the administrative aspects of the planning process, not so much with the imaginative aspects. Having efficient meetings to get the administrative aspects dealt with are vital to having the EAF planning process progress in an effective and timely manner.

The basic structure for most types of meetings is outlined below but this assumes you have considered properly and decided that the meeting is necessary.

  1. plan - use the agenda as a planning tool
  2. circulate the meeting agenda in advance
  3. run the meeting - keep control, agree outcomes, actions and responsibilities, take notes
  4. write and circulate notes - especially actions and accountabilities
  5. follow up agreed actions and responsibilities

The appendix includes more detailed outline of tips for effective meeting preparation; meeting processes and meeting follow-ups.

There are now online tools to assist with determining the availability of people to attend meetings; this is especially helpful if they involve people from a number of agencies or locations.

EAF Tool Tips

Try and ensure that the meetings are kept to a minimum and focus on the EAF process and not digress too far into other issues.

EAF Tool Pedigree

Meetings are one of the most common forms of consultation but are still often not completed well. These tips are based on best practice across a number of different sectors.

EAF Tool Usage

Easy

Cost

Low, Moderate

Project meetings should be able to be undertaken at low cost except for people’s time and the costs of having an executive officer who is responsible for the administration of the meeting – sending our agendas keeping minutes/outcomes and following up on actions. . The cost may increase if project partners who need to attend are not in the same location.

EAF Tool Capacity

Moderate

The main capacity requirement for good project meetings is to have a good meeting chairperson and an executive officer who will ensure the meeting administration is completed.

Background Requirements

Low – Moderate

The participants should bring along al the knowledge that is necessary. This may include the need to generate background papers.

Participation

Low

These project meetings are not designed to have a high number of participants – workshops are better for that. They are designed for the key people responsible for the completion of different activities to meet and discuss progress.

Time Range

Short

They should only occur for a maximum of three hours or people will begin to lose focus but the preparation time and follow up work may take a few weeks to complete.

Source of Information

Tips for better meetings:

Diary planners:

With all the different calendars making appointments is often a huge task. There are web tools that make the process a lot easier. Someone chooses a number of suitable dates; other invited participants indicate which dates suit them.

Appendix

Summary of Tips for Meetings (sources - http://nancysylvester.com/docs/Resources/articles/effective_meetings.html, http://humanresources.about.com/od/meetingmanagement/a/meetings_work.htm)

EFFECTIVE MEETING PREPARATION HINTS & TIPS

  • Things to consider:
  • What is the purpose of the meeting?
    Hint: Be sure that it can be written in a sentence or two. If you have trouble writing it down, it is probably not clear enough.
  • Do we need a meeting or are there other ways to accomplish the goal?
  • Written Communication
  • Email
  • Faxes
  • Memos
  • Letters
  • Conference Call
  • Video conference
  • Stand-up meeting
  • One-on-one conversations
  • Are the potential benefits worth the cost of the meeting?
    Analyse the cost from the point of view of how much each person in attendance makes per hour, in addition to what is not getting done by the meeting attendees because they are in the meeting.
  • Is this the right time for the meeting?
  • Are all of the needed people available for this meeting (including decision makers)?
  • Do they have needed information?
  • Are the attendees prepared to discuss the issues?
  • Are the attendees psychologically ready, e.g. too close in time to a volatile situation, unresolved conflict, too much change, etc.?
  • What will happen if you don't have a meeting?
  • Important decision will not be made in time
  • Project will not meet deadlines
  • Interpersonal conflict will escalate
  • Critical problem will not get solved
  • What is the best physical layout of the room for this meeting?
  • Consider meeting objective
  • If you want to encourage interaction among the participants use circle or horseshoe shape
  • If you want control of the flow of communication use classroom style
  • What meeting arrangements need to be made?
  • Name cards (tent cards)
  • If the person conducting the meeting does not know the names of all of the attendees, it is helpful to have a name card in front of each person
  • Name cards are also helpful when the attendees do not know each other's names
  • Put the participant’s name on both sides of the tent card – not because you question if the participant knows his own name, but so that the people on the same side of the table can see his name, not just those across the room
  • Refreshments
  • Name tags
  • Pens and paper
  • Are you or any of the participants in the meeting going to need audio visual equipment?
  • Flip charts and markers
  • White board and erasable markers
  • LCD display board
  • Lap top
  • LCD projector
  • Overhead projector and screen
  • Slide projector and screen
  • Microphone and speakers
  • Stationary
  • Lavaliere
  • Cordless
  • Meeting notice – sent to the members in advance of the meeting
  • Rationale
  • If all attendees know in advance what is expected of them before the meeting, they are more likely to come prepared for the meeting.
  • If all attendees know what they need to bring to the meeting, they are more likely to have what they need at the meeting
  • A meeting notice prevents time wasted because of inadequate information provided in advance of the meeting
  • Content
  • List of attendees
  • Remember the larger the group, the longer the meeting will probably last
  • Are all decision makers included?
  • Are people with important input included?
  • Are there people who might gain from attendance at this meeting?
  • Indicate who called the meeting
  • Date, time (beginning and ending), and place of the meeting
  • Meeting objective
  • Whom to confirm attendance to
  • Agenda
  • Material to bring to meeting
  • Material to read before the meeting
  • Attachments
  • Identification of minute taker
  • So they will come prepared with pen and paper or computer
  • Identification of timekeeper
  • So they will come prepared with timepiece
  • Identification of meeting observer/evaluator
  • For the purpose of improving the quality of the meeting
  • Distribution
  • Be sure that the meeting notice is distributed in sufficient time:
  • To fit into schedules of attendees
  • For attendees to do preparatory work
  • For rescheduling if key people cannot attend
  • For attendees to ask questions in advance of meeting
  • Agenda
  • Preparation
  • Who is to prepare the agenda?
  • When do agenda items need to be submitted to the person preparing the agenda?
  • Content and format
  • Identify on the agenda who is responsible for each item on the agenda
  • Identify the time devoted to each item on the agenda
  • Identify and mark action items and information items
  • Determine codes to use for action items and information items. E.g.:
  • * Action Items
  • # Information Items
  • Consistently use these codes in front of each item on the agenda
  • The advantage of this is that if an attendee's preparation time is limited, he will know which are the action items so he can prepare for them first
  • Order of content
  • The content of the agenda should be in order of most important to least important
  • Then, if time runs out before the agenda is completed, the most important issues have been addressed

Effective Meeting Process Tips

Effective use of meeting time keeps the meeting focused and also builds enthusiasm for the topic. The sense of accomplishment generated from participants creates synergy through dynamics coordinated through a well-defined and effective meeting. The end result of a well-facilitated, dynamic meeting sets the stage for follow-up of measureable goals, and will ultimately produce meeting results.
Listed below are tips for an effective meeting process.

  1. Start Meeting on Time
  2. If you don't, attendees will learn that it is acceptable to be late.
  3. Starting the meeting late is sometimes viewed as disrespectful to the attendees who were on time
  4. Review meeting agenda and be prepared to modify it if necessary
  5. If you have done an adequate job of preparing the agenda, the only things that will be added are last minute issues
  6. Follow the agenda
  7. Much time is wasted because of not following the agenda
  8. Issue Log or Parking Lot
  9. Get agreement in the beginning of the meeting to use it
  10. Assign an attendee to record it
  11. The Parking Lot contains items that are spontaneously brought up during the meeting which are important issues to address but are brought up at an inappropriate point on the agenda.
  12. If time remains at the end of the meeting, refer to the Parking Lot for items that need the group’s attention
  13. Include on the agenda for the next meeting items from the Parking Lot that did not get covered at the meeting.
  14. Keep Meeting Focused
  15. Make sure that discussion on any one agenda item is pertinent to that specific agenda item
  16. Don't allow getting off track. Stop it early!
  17. If an action is decided upon, make sure the following are done:
  18. A specific person is assigned to follow up on that issue
  19. Date/time of the follow up report or action should be identified - even if it is a status report instead of the final report
  20. Evaluate meeting
  21. Take a few minutes at the end of the meeting to evaluate what worked and what did not work for this meeting

End the meeting on time

Effective Meeting Follow-Up Tips

An effective meeting continues after is over through a follow-up process. The follow-up activities after the meeting keeps the energy created during the meeting focused on action items developed during the meeting and accomplishing goals stated in the meeting.
Listed below are tips for an effective meeting follow-up.

  • Minutes
  • All meetings should have minutes. Minutes assist the group in recording actions and preventing wasting time repeatedly discussing the same issue.
  • Minutes should include:
  • Introduction
  • Name of the team
  • Purpose
  • Date, time and place
  • Name of facilitator and recorder
  • Attendees´ names
  • Body
  • Brief summary of reports
  • Decision on any action items. Care should be taken in the wording of the agreed-upon decision. If uncertain, check with the team to be sure the wording of the decision is accurate
  • Additional decisions
  • Assignments made include name of person assigned an item needing follow up, its completion date, and the expected reporting date
  • Conclusion
  • Time meeting concluded
  • Date of next meeting, if known
  • Minutes Should Not Include:
  • An account of what was said at the meeting
  • Opinions, interpretations, or judgmental statements by the person recording the minutes

 
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