Handling Office Meeting
Calling a meeting

Meeting is a cost of poor quality (COPQ). Call a meeting only if truly necessary. For example when it is required legally (such as safety committee meeting) or required by ISO standard. Make the meeting value-added. State clearly the expected outcome of the meeting. Avoid calling a meeting just to collect info. Collecting info can be done by just approaching the person anytime. Avoid calling a meeting just for togetherness. Minimize number of meetings by studying the need of each meeting to avoid waste. Get attendees who are really related only, in other words, people who will bring productivity to the meeting. It is better to have a meeting need assessment template in place. Check whether each participant perceives that the meeting is useful for his/her work.


Send agenda. The agenda should include a proposed date for next meeting (if it is a recurring meeting) after this meeting.

The good thing about having a meeting fixed periodically (e.g. quarterly) is the team members can prepare things to say for the meeting thus there is more input. Ad hoc meeting will have less input.

The meeting should be held at a place with least distraction (a meeting room etc).

If the intended participants are always busy attending meeting in or out the office, it is better to talk to them first to set the meeting date and time. It is even better if everyone can write their meeting schedule in the public calendar in the network system so that one does not have to run around to ask them about their schedule.

Remind each colleague to send a representative attending the meeting on his/her behalf in case of absence. Or if the colleague does not have a representative, then he should at least decline the invitation (preferably with a reason) so that he is not waited to start the meeting.

If the attendees are prone to not responding to the meeting invitation (neither accepting nor declining), remind them.

All day
Do not tick "All day event" in Microsoft Outlook

In Microsoft Outlook Calendar, ironically if the appointment is all day event, do not tick the "All day event" box. This is because it will not be reflected on the Scheduling Assistant and new appointment that conflicts with the all day event may be set accidentally. Instead select whole day time slots, such as 9am to 6pm.

Before the meeting

If possible, have a chat with the related personnel about what will be talked the meeting.

If before the next meeting a task that is mentioned in the last meeting is completed, the action owner does not have to wait for the next meeting to update status of the task.

If the attendees have a tendency of coming late, remind them a quarter hour before the meeting so that they will not forget about the meeting or come late. The easiest way is to send an SMS to a pre-defined group of attendees in the mobile phone five minutes before the meeting.

During the meeting

Start the meeting on time. Try not to wait for the persons who are late. If there is a significant number of people who do not come, do not wait too long but just cancel the meeting.

Start the meeting by closing the room door. Remind everyone to switch off cellphone. Tell the name of attendees that who are not attending the meeting. Tell the expected outcome of the meeting. Then review minutes of last meeting if any.

Ensure there is no
a) surprise statement in the meeting unless it is a desirable one. If someone is expected to answer a big question in the meeting, he/she should be notified at least one hour before the meeting to avoid surprise.
b) discussion on question that does not relate to the rest of the team (for example personal job scope should be discussed with the direct superior personally). Example of issue that relates to the rest of the team: cost, new process implementation. If this kind of discussion is needed, make sure to allow the unrelated persons to leave the room. Do not waste other people's time.

If it is a recurring meeting, ask the attendees when they will be available for the next meeting.

Minuting the meeting

If there will be no record at all (attendance etc) about the proposed meeting, then it is better not to call the meeting.

To avoid biasness, the person having any task from the meting should not be writing the minute. If it is a very technical meeting and only one person is the expert of the matter and will be responsible of the issue addressed by the meeting, then that person does not need a minute at all, let alone writing the minute.

The person doing the minute can begin the minute with checking attendance.

Minute the item right after discussion before proceeding to the next item in the agenda. It is the best if it can be written in front of all attendees displayed by a projector. It is OK if there is a moment of silence to write minute of meeting. That period can also let the attendees think what to say next. It is not good if the minute cannot be sent directly right after the meeting. By all means finish the minute on the spot. That also ensures the genuinity of the minute. And there will be no dispute from the attendees later because the wording is formulated in front of them.

The person taking the minute should take active approach to confirm any doubt boldly on the spot without thinking that any unclear point can be clarified after the meeting. The minute should be written during the meeting so that
a) it can be readily distributed right after the meeting.
b) no need to try hard to recall the things in the meeting to be minuted.

If the meeting is via the phone, read the minute clause out loud to the person who is not minuting.

If a task stated in the minute for the last meeting has been done, it is marked as done in the current minute and will not be repeated in the next minute. The new minute can be worked on the last minute list. Examples:

Minute for meeting #1
#To DoWhomComment (Due, status etc)
1-1Beat the competitor.JohnDue meeting #2
1-2Change to new product.JaneDue meeting #2

Minute for meeting #2
#To DoWhomComment (Due, status etc)
1-1Beat the competitor.JohnDue meeting #3
1-2Change to new product.JaneDONE
2-1Retrench staff.Mr. XDue meeting #3

Minute for meeting #3
#To DoWhomComment (Due, status etc)
1-1Beat the competitor.JohnThe competitors are changing strategy
2-1Retrench staff.Mr. XDue meeting #4
3-1Increase output.Ms. XDue meeting #4

Item 1-2 means point 2 in meeting #1. When meeting #2 is called, item 1-2 is already done so it is marked as DONE (such item can also have strikethrough) and it does not appear in minute for meeting #3. Item 1-1 is not done when meeting #2 and #3 are called so it still appears in minute for meeting #2 and #3 without being marked as DONE. If there is outstanding item from last year, write it as 2007*1-1 to differentiate it from the task in this year.

Generally the due date of the task is on the next meeting. The minute of current meeting will be reviewed in the next meeting anyway.

If there is new rule decided in the meeting, it should be assigned with a item number too for easier future reference.

At the end of the meeting, ask whether the proposed date for the next meeting in the agenda is acceptable by all. Otherwise propose a new date on the spot.


If the attendance for recurring meeting is not that good, the following can be done.
a) Create a team organization chart to give a sense of involvement.
b) If an attendee does not attend the meeting for three times consecutively, his/her direct superior should have a chat with him/her.

Download: minute_format.doc
Posted: 2008-01-25; updated: 2016-12-01 by Ong Seng Aun.
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