‘Tis the Season to Keep Lists Organized

Tis The Season Lists 1

This Christmas season, I hear lots of talk about Santa and his list. I know I’m making lists. I have a lot of things I want to get done, and I carry that list around with me to make sure it happens. There are piles of notebooks next to my computer to keep track of everything.

The AV industry is usually very busy this time of year. Most customers are staring down at the end of the year and need to wrap up projects they’ve been working on. Some customers want to get certain initiatives started and on the books before 2021 closes up. The end of the year is full of urgent emails and phone calls.

Talk about lists of things to remember! This makes me think of my top business tool — the Meeting Agenda.

Those urgent requests from customers need a follow-up in the form of scheduled meetings. Let’s get all the right people together at the same time and take care of business. Just like I make a list before I go to the store, I gather up the requirements of this meeting.

What are we trying to do? Can I make sure to invite all the right people? If I organize my thoughts on what we are trying to do, I can be confident the right people are included. Every appointment has a purpose, whether it is sales, projects or internal team meetings.

Let’s say this meeting is about a new installation. I’ll need to make sure I have the designer, maybe the lead installer, the sales guy and the right people from the customer’s side to ask and answer the questions that come up.

At the top of every agenda, I have a purpose statement: “This meeting is to review Acme Inc.’s project to install AV systems at their Springfield office: two huddle rooms, one large conference room and two digital signage systems.”

This purpose statement orients everyone on what we are doing in this meeting. In the midst of busy days and competing priorities, I can find myself in my third meeting in a row, and it takes me a minute to remember what this one is for. Stakeholders are grateful to be oriented on what this is about. With a purpose statement, we can get our heads in the game for the requirements of the meeting we are in at the moment.

Now that we know what we are here for, I move to the bullet points. The bullets state the details of what we last discussed and the stuff I have questions about, as well as information I need to share.

My first bullets might be:

  • Noise of the installation must take place outside of business hours, 8-5 at this office
  • Three consecutive days will be reserved for this work

In this case, I am repeating what I’m being told the customer wants. As I bring these up, the customer can confirm or correct the details. They can let me know their business hours are actually from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Since that is the case, and the noise containment is important, we’ll need to talk about a change order for my team to work after hours.

Then my next set of bullet points could be:

  • Can the site securely store the equipment when we deliver it?
  • Are the LAN drops we will use EOL capable?

These questions are things I’ll need them to answer. These are the nitty-gritty details that make an installation successful and give the customer what they want. 

One thing I have learned over time is that even though I am the one arranging for this meeting and creating the agenda, I can’t be the only one talking. Communication must go both ways. The stakeholders I’ve invited have critical information and insight to share. The reason for the meeting is to solicit and collect their input.

I need these people, these stakeholders, and what they have to contribute. If I didn’t need their questions and feedback, this meeting could have been an email. I want to create a space for people to speak up and share so we can all understand what we are facing. When the concerns and questions are brought up at the beginning, it saves so much time. And time is money.

The agenda gives us a starting point to have that conversation and collaboration. Then I can capture all the details and send them out as notes and/or action items which keeps the ball rolling toward the target.

Santa is rumored to check his lists twice to make sure that all the packages were properly delivered. When I am caught in end-of-the-year chaos, this is how to wrap up the work. I have to do a tight, tidy package. Then I can get back to appreciating my teammates and enjoying the season.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!