Importance of Parking Lot for Meetings

Meetings can often go off the agenda. Sometimes this is because a person wants to air their point of view with a forum. Other times it may be because an attendee has not understood the purpose of the meeting, and believes that their point is relevant. In other situations, going off subject may be caused by the meeting coordinator not keeping a tight rein on the meeting, and allowing people to get off the subject matter at hand.

Sometimes ideas that are raised during the course of a discussion are interesting and worthwhile to follow up, but are just not necessarily of direct use to the goals of the current meeting. Time and money can be wasted and participants get frustrated when meetings go off topic. It is important for those leading the meeting to be able to spot when this is happening and stop it. Having an agenda and sticking to it is essential for effective meetings.

With a parking lot, this can be easier to do. By adding a topic to the parking lot, the new (unrelated) subject will not be forgotten, as it is documented for discussion in the future. This reassures the person who raised the point that it will be dealt with, even if now is not the most appropriate time for such a discussion. It also allows the meeting coordinator to move swiftly on without appearing to be rude, or brushing aside a point that might be really important for a meeting participant (even if it is off-topic for the current meeting).

When considering using the parking lot for a meeting, it may be helpful to advise the meeting attendees up front that you are going to be doing so. This can be easily done by explaining that the meeting has a set amount of time assigned and so you plan to make sure that the agenda is stuck to. Let the participants know that if you feel they are going off on a tangent to the main thrust of the meeting, then their comments or points will be noted in the parking lot and will be addressed later. This may also serve the purpose of helping to keep the meeting on track at the outset, by demonstrating to participants that deviations from the main topics of discussion at the meeting will not be allowed.

MeetingKing provides built in Parking Lot functionality. With MeetingKing, adding an item to the Parking Lot is very simple – Just create a new topic in your agenda/minutes work space and drag it into the Parking Lot area. When preparing the agenda for a next meeting you just open the Parking Lot and drag the topic from the Parking Lot onto your new agenda.

Just because an item is added to the parking lot does not necessarily mean that it has to be discussed at another time. If the meeting participants get through the rest of the agenda and make all of the required decisions that are needed with time left over, there is no reason why the parking lot items for the meeting cannot be reviewed.

Stay focused use the Parking Lot for unrelated new topics - simply drag them onto the agenda of your next meeting

About Edwin Siebesma

Edwin Siebesma is founder of MeetingKing, a web based meeting productivity and task management application. If you want more productive and effective meetings, go to http://meetingking.com. Edwin has more than 20 years of senior executive experience, believes in a hands-on management style and enjoys bringing structure and focus to chaotic organizational processes. Prior to starting MeetingKing in 2010, Edwin was CEO of WinZip.

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