Running an effective meeting is a critical skill for business analysts to master. You’ll facilitate all kinds of meetings with all different levels of stakeholders as a business analyst – discovery meetings, requirements review meetings, issue resolution meetings, planning meetings, just to name a few.
What’s more, when you cultivate this skill of running an effective meeting, your stakeholders will be more likely to show up – and even show up on time! Your work gets more fun, and you get more done quickly.
In this video, I share a few of my tips for running a super effective meeting.
Hi, I’m Laura Brandenburg from Bridging the Gap.
Do you ever go to boring, crazy, unproductive meetings? Do you want to be the business analyst that everybody wants on their project because you run the best possible meetings?
Running a meeting is a skill. It’s something you can learn. It’s something you can master. Today I want to share just five tips with you for running a super productive working meeting that gets things done and encourages your stakeholders to actually show up on time, ask you to schedule meetings for them, and be excited when they see your name pop up on your calendar. Let’s dive right in.
Effective Meetings Tip #1 – Create an Agenda
The very first tip is to create an agenda. This is like Meetings 101. You want to know who was invited, what the purpose of the meeting is, what you’re hoping to accomplish. You want to provide that in advance so people know why the meeting is important and what they can hope to get done while they’re there.
The other piece to the agenda; maybe I’ve got that. You want to take it a step further and link what’s in your agenda to the progress of the project. When we get this done, when we review this requirements deliverable, or when we make this decision about prioritization, then we are going to be able to take this step forward in the project and show how it’s critical to moving the project forward.
Stakeholders see why their investment in time, energy, coming and showing up to the meeting, how that’s going to be valuable to them.
Effective Meetings Tip #2 – Prepare Deliverables
Tip #2 is to prepare a deliverable. Sometimes you don’t need a deliverable. You can show up and you just have questions at the very beginning of a project. But it almost always makes sense to prepare some sort of deliverable that can either be a rough working draft, or sometimes as you get further along in the project, you’re reviewing, validating, and going through that in a lot of detail. Examples might be a business process document, a use case document, a wireframe, a data model. Use that document to help organize the structure of the meeting.
One of the things I like to do is as I go through that document or deliverable is put in questions of where is there ambiguity. What do I need to know? We can use that as the step-by-step that we walk through and use to create discussion.
If you’re not sure what deliverable you should be creating, you probably want to start with a business process. I’m going to leave my link to our free business process template below this video so you can download that for free and get started with your more effective meetings relatively quickly.
Effective Meetings Tip #3 – Set the Stage
Tip #3 is set the stage. In our courses, we provide scripts or talking points. You’re not going to read a script. There are scripts that you can practice for how to set the stage for various types of requirements meetings that you might run to analyze or discover details for a specific kind of deliverable. That’s how important this skill is. Just give some thought in how you are going to open up the meeting.
Often you want to talk through who are the people there, what are you hoping to accomplish, what are you hoping each of them to contribute? You want to recap how this discussion you’re going to have moves the project forward, and you want to set the scope for the meeting.
This makes it a lot easier to redirect unproductive conversations that tend to come up in requirements meetings because people get excited and have ideas and want to explore nuances or go down rabbit trails, as we like to say. It’s important to create the frame for the meeting and set the stage so when you have to redirect and adjust later, it’s easier to refer back to.
Effective Meetings Tip #4 – Keep the Meeting On Track
That leads us to tip #4 which is to keep your meetings on track.
When those side trails do come up, or when somebody starts going too deep into a technical discussion that’s not required, use an issues list or a tracking sheet to say, “That’s not critical to the outcome that we set for this meeting. I want to make sure that we can accomplish what we set out to do today. Can I assign you an action item or put this on the issues list and we’ll make sure to come back to it later?”
You need to show that leadership ability as a business analyst to keep your meetings on track. It helps ensure that you’re consistently adding value, moving the meeting forward and you’re running the meetings that people want to show up to because they know you are going to organize it and make sure what needs to get done, gets done.
Effective Meetings Tip #5 – Close with Next Steps
Tip #5, and it really follows from Tip #4. That is to close with next steps. If you are gently redirecting, adding action items, or capturing issues on issues logs, you want to make sure that you revisit what all of those next steps are at the end of the meeting.
People get lost and forget. They’re off thinking about the next meeting and will they have time to use the bathroom in between. Re-close with next steps. Recap what was decided, what are the open items, and who’s in charge of what. Send that out afterwards as well. Take a few minutes at the close of the meeting to wrap things up. Even if you don’t accomplish the whole objective of what you set you to do – maybe you thought you could make a decision and you needed some more information.
Celebrate the progress that you’ve made. Acknowledge the progress for everyone. They’re going to be like, “Oh yeah, we really did get something done in this meeting.” There’s an appreciation factor that goes into that. You’re bringing awareness to it, which also helps cultivate their interests and desire to show up for your next meeting. You’re already planting the seed of what’s going to happen in the next meeting when you close with what was accomplished and also with next steps.
Those are my five tips. Just to recap:
- Create an agenda and make sure that the agenda is tied to the progress of the project.
- Prepare some deliverables. If you don’t know where to start, download my business process template below. It’s usually a good starting point.
- Set the stage. Think about how you’re going to open the meeting and get it on the right track.
- Keep the meeting on track throughout. This is where we show leadership, guidance and keeping everyone moving towards the desired outcome of the meeting.
- Wrap up by closing with both acknowledging what was accomplished and highlighting those next steps so that you know exactly what you need to accomplish in your next meeting.
I hope these tips help you. Leave a comment below. Let me know what adjustments you are going to be making to your meeting. I want to hear what you’re going to apply from this free video.
Again, I’m Laura Brandenburg from Bridging the Gap. We help business analysts start their careers.