• Rob

How tapas can improve every meeting

Updated: Feb 22, 2019

I’ve been using the TAPAS acronym for meetings for a few years now. Partly because it helps to get the most out of the them and partly because I really enjoy tapas. TAPAS describes several clear and practical ideas for ensuring meetings are effective.

T – Time bound

How long does the meeting need to last? There is a historical tendency to make meetings last an hour long when oftentimes there is no reason to. Think carefully about how long you believe the meeting should last; shorter meetings can often be more focused. Meetings should start on time, and you should aim to finish 5 minutes early to let people get to their next appointment on time.

A – Agenda & attendees

Plan and share an agenda, in advance, for the meeting. I used to work with someone who would decline any meeting request where it was not clear in the invitation what the purpose of the meeting was, why they were specifically invited and what the expected outcome was. A bad habit that seems to be creeping into some workplaces is to have no detail other than a date, time and meeting title.

Linked to above, think carefully about who actually needs to attend. Don't invite people for the sake of it - only those needed to help accomplish the purpose of the meeting. This works both ways; if you are invited to a meeting and you are not sure why, you should feel confident in challenging the organiser to justify their invitation. Your time is finite.

If you're in a meeting where it becomes clear your presence is not required, politely make this clear to the chair and leave. I appreciate that this may be difficult and may involve a cultural change but, as above, your time is finite. If you are not contributing, then you should take your leave.

P – Preparation

With an agenda that is shared ahead of time, the onus is on you as an attendee who has accepted the invitation to come to the meeting prepared. Make sure you have reviewed any relevant material or minutes from previous meetings.

A – Actions

I don’t like this word, but the acronym wouldn’t work otherwise! All actions should be recorded, assigned to a person and summarised at the end of the meeting. If possible, they should also have an end date on them so people know what to aim for.

S – Steer (Chair)

There should be someone leading/steering the meeting who will ensure the discussion remains focused and that everyone gets a chance to speak. This does not need to be the meeting organiser.

Feedback is a gift

You can choose to gather feedback from attendees on how they value the meetings they are attending. I would not recommend this for every meeting as people may start to get feedback fatigue, but perhaps after a major meeting or after a set number of meetings, this could prove to be useful so that strengths can be reinforced and areas for improvement can be identified and developed.

This could take the format of a simple quantitative scale such as below:

How would you rate the meeting?

0 - Zero value in attending

1 - Little value in attending

2 - Break even with the time invested

3 - Some value in attending

4 - Good value in attending

5 - High value in attending

Or it could be qualitative value that people gain from meeting and collaborating, e.g.

Informed decisions were made after appropriate discussions

There was an opportunity to share valuable information

I had the opportunity to learn something interesting/new

We were able to sit down as a group and solve a problem

We were able to identify tangible improvements

It goes without saying that, acronyms aside, actual tapas would also immeasurably improve every meeting.

If you would like some help exploring these ideas, please feel free to get in touch for a free consultation.




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