SyBIT might have more meetings than other projects due to its distributed nature. It is therefore essential that these meetings are productive, well prepared and well documented.
Keep Meetings at a minimum
Only schedule a meeting if it is not possible, inefficient or too slow to resolve a question over the phone, email, mailinglist or the chatroom.
Who schedules a meeting
- Everyone can schedule meetings.
- Whoever is responsible for a certain task in a project is usually initiating a focussed meeting on a topic needing clarification to advance in the task
When to set up a meeting
- Planning of projects, definition of tasks and milestones
- Clarification of issues that prevent continuation of work on a task
- More than 2 people are involved (otherwise just pick up the phone)
Choosing the type of meeting
- Teleconferences or Skype for short items with few people, optimally no more than 5. Duration optimally less than 30minutes, absolutely no more than 1 hour.
- Videoconferences can be done also on Skype or dedicated equipment. Also with as few people as possible, and short works best.
- Websharing of desktop and documents in the telecon: Useful for demos or presentations.
- Face-to-face meetings for complex topics with unknown number of items (brainstorming) or for a longer list of items. Duration at least 2 hours, up to a full day.
Preparing a Meeting
- Unless it is a regular meeting, or a date has been set in a previous one, set up a doodle to propose a few dates for the meeting. Make sure that you yourself are available at all dates/times you propose. Make sure to set an interval, ie. there is an ending time.
- Set up a wiki page with a preliminary Agenda
- Send a mail to everyone you wish to invite, stating at least the following:
- Motivation for the meeting
- Expected results
- Doodle link to invitation (stating must-have attendees explicitly)
- Preliminary agenda, link to wiki page
- Set a deadline for people to respond to the doodle.
- After the deadline has passed, choose the best time and inform everyone, or reschedule the meeting if no time was found
- If it is a phone meeting, reserve a phone conference slot with the Switch system. Keep to less than one hour.
- If it is a skype meeting, make sure you have everyone's skype ID. Keep to less than one hour.
- If it is a face-to-face meeting, find a room and make the reservation. (Vanessa can help you with that if it is a problem). Think of putting in breaks into the agenda, organize water/coffee if possible and food if necessary (lunch meeting).
Conducting a Meeting
- It must be clear to everyone who is leading the meeting (usually the person who called it)
- There must be someone responsible for minutes (protocol), this should NOT be the person leading the meeting
- In the beginning the goals have to be clearly stated and everyone should agree
- The agenda can be changed as the first item on the meeting if necessary, everyone must agree to changes, everyone can suggest changes
- Always state clearly which agenda item is being discussed
- Decisions, TODO items need to be repeated explicitly and everyone needs to be given a chance to ask questions about them
Protocol of a Meeting
- The protocol can be on the same wiki page as the agenda or a separate wiki page linked from the agenda
- A protocol is not a transcript of everything that was said. It should contain only
- Decisions made on open items
- Assignments made
- TODO items pending, new and old
- Status of past TODO items discussed, change of their state (open to closed for example)
- Additional next steps if necessary and outside of listed TODOs
- Whether a followup meeting needs to be scheduled and if yes when