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Managing expectations for meetings

By Colleen Harding

We are a society that likes meetings. Sometimes we even meet to plan a meeting. Some meetings are done in person while others are done on conference calls and/or utilizing the resources that the web provides.

Regardless of what method of meeting fits your need, protocol for meeting is a must. It allows you to manage expectations by presenting the purpose and what is expected of each participant. Poor planning may have negative results, ultimately wasting people’s time. Time is the most valuable thing you can give someone because it cannot be replaced. Wasting someone’s time demonstrates a lack of respect and poor preparation and should be avoided at all costs.

Here are some suggestions on how to plan for a productive, professional, and positive meeting.

  1. Contact participants with the purpose of the meeting, location, and time.
  2. Inform the participants of the allotted amount of time that the meeting will take and stay to the time limit. One-hour meetings should last no more the one hour.
  3. Define expectations. Identify who will provide what information for the group.
  4. Provide a date that individuals will need to respond by if they are not able to attend.
  5. Ask individuals if they would like to be included remotely (off site).
  6. Plan food and/or beverages necessary for attendees. Consider possible allergies of attendees when planning menu.
  7. Think about the tone you use when presenting to the group. Many times it is not what you say but how you say it that can be misinterpreted.
  8. Always be prompt. If you are going to be late, let someone know in advance, accompanied with an apology and a promise to try not to disturb the meeting.
  9. Keep cell phones out of site. Cell phones can interrupt a productive meeting or brainstorming session and be rude. If you have to take a call, politely excuse yourself to do so.
  10. Decide when everyone is to follow up, reconvene, and complete tasks.

Managing expectations can alleviate miscommunications and be far more productive overall for everyone. Make good use of your time and others by allowing them to politely understand what is expected of everyone involved and what the overall goal is. Following a few simple guidelines can allow everyone involved to have a positive experience and be far more productive.

Colleen Harding is a protocol coach and the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol. She can be reached at (216) 970-5889 and clevelandetiquette@gmail.com.

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