I read with interest a blog post
on PR Moment
, which cites meetings as a waste of time. Although the article, written by “Hacked Off Flack,” is tongue in cheek to some extent, I can’t help but offer a rebuttal.
Having started a new job two weeks ago, building client relationships is one of the most important things I need to do to effectively manage my client’s accounts. This can’t be done without regular face-to-face contact.
But, I won’t disagree completely with Hacked Off Flack—I have been in many meetings that have proven to be a complete waste of time, turning into lengthy debates rather than short, sharp decision-making sessions.
With that in mind, here are some tips to ensure your meetings remain productive.
1. It’s all about the agenda.
Draft a realistic agenda before the meeting and issue it to all parties for additions and reference (about a week before if possible). This will ensure that everyone is in agreement on what needs to be discussed and will stop anything from being missed or tangents from taking over. Try to plan how long you think each item will last and decide your meeting length around this. Most importantly, stick to it and steer people back to the agenda if necessary.
2. Someone take notes.
And by this I don’t mean illegible scribble (which is what I’m often guilty of) but proper, detailed notes of decisions and actions. Note taking can be a hard skill to master—being able to filter the nonsense and capture the stuff that really matters should not be underestimated.
3. Clarify actions at the end of each meeting.
How many times have you left a meeting still not knowing what you’re supposed to do, or wondering if your client is really
clear about what you need them to do? At the end of the meeting have your dedicated note taker clarify each person’s actions, quickly and succinctly.
4. Share a contact report.
Issue a contact report to all parties after the meeting, confirming in writing what has been agreed. A written record is vital to ensure that everyone is clear on what needs to be achieved by when. It’s also a good tool to look back on when you’re nearing the next meeting to make sure everything has been completed.
5. Think about who should attend.
Most PR pros and agencies charge per hour or day and meetings can quickly eat into a retainer. Think carefully about who should be in the meeting—do you really need an account director, manager, and two account executives? Only have those who will truly benefit from the meeting, both from your team and the client’s perspective.
6. Always schedule an end time.
If you don’t have an end time, you’re asking for trouble. Keep an eye on the time and give the odd countdown to remind people. For instance, “We’ve got 15 minutes left, shall we move onto the next item?”
7. Get into a routine.
Decide how often you need to have client meetings: monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, and so. But whatever you choose, stick to it. It’s when meetings get cancelled and you try and roll six months worth into one meeting that things get a bit hectic. The last item on your agenda should always be “date of the next meeting.”
8. Get biscuits (or cookies for my American readers).
Sugar makes every meeting easier to bear. Trust me; it’s a well known fact.
This post first appeared on
PR Daily contributor Brooke Nolan’s blog, PR Tips.