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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
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