Tips for Running Effective Meetings
Date Posted: 08/25/2015
Meetings are a platform for everyone to exchange views and formulate future action. These occasions serve a wide range of purposes from giving people an opportunity to get together to understand, discuss and brain-storm issues. People update themselves on developments and take decisions for future course of action. But most meetings are a chore as they are presented ineffectively. Some tend to drag endlessly on making everyone restless and fidgety, wondering why they are attending at all. But since meetings take up much of the time in the daily/weekly routine, they should not make participants feel that they are a waste of time.
Do you also sometimes sigh in despair when you must attend a meeting? What about that occasion when you actually got quite absorbed and interested? What was the difference? Maybe it was not only the content but also the ability of the presenter to hold that meeting in a particular way, and his manner of presenting that made all the difference. So when it’s your turn to run that meeting, you must be able to produce positive audience reception instead of yawns. For this, you need to thoroughly prepare for and present the issue in a well structured format with interesting information and stimulating revelations so that the entire procedure is enjoyable and no tedium creeps into the deliberations.
Here are some simple ways to organize and run meaningful meetings that stimulate employee intellect to direct energies to their work:
Preparation before the meeting:
- Priorities – what must be discussed
- Sequence – the order that you will cover the topics
- Results – consents that need to be obtained
- Participation – who needs to attend the meeting
- Allotted timing – how much time to spend on each topic, and by whom
- Date, time and venue – where and the best time for the meeting to take place
Plan the participation
There is no point in filling up the hall with numbers. So meticulously select who you really want at your meeting. Decide why such persons’ presence would matter. If you’re announcing a major development, invite those who can take decisions for the future course of action. In other words invite only those people who are relevant and can contribute towards reaching a future action.
Make your meeting convenient to attend, beginning and concluding in a timely manner. Do not waste the time of the punctual participants by waiting for latecomers, who may not even turn up because of other urgent tasks they need to attend to. This will be well appreciated by the truly busy. Let any latecomers realize they’ve missed out on an important event, however routine. They will learn to be more punctual in future.
Seek permission and get all personal gadgets switched off. If you permit people to use their mobile phones and other gadgets at the meeting, owners are bound to get distracted, and others resent the disturbance.
Get invited to speak
A good strategy is to involve peers and juniors in planning and preparing the meeting and its agenda. For good effect, on commencement of the meeting use a peer or junior to invite you to present the issue. This will direct the limelight on yourself as well as develop subordinates’ skills in facing groups.
Clarify your agenda at the start
First reiterate your objective to hold the meeting. Establish exactly what you wish to propose and what you want to achieve. It may be important news and information. It may be strategy changes. It may even be an alert. Whatever else it may be, let it not be dull. If the matter is already known to everyone, make your presentation generate opinions and options to make people throw up ideas.
Stick to your program schedule
Target to wrap-up your meeting in about 60 minutes. Allocate realistic timelines for each aspect of the meeting you want to cover and adhere to it. You can display your timelines for the agenda on a screen so that the busy participants can plan a short absence if required. Politely but firmly restrict each person to their fair share of time.
Encourage interactive participation
Get both the articulate and the reluctant to fully involve in the deliberations, express and share their views so that everyone has a chance to contribute their inputs. It’s your meeting but you should break the monologue of your own voice by facilitating open discussion. Also ensure you keep the discussions on track and don’t allow arguments to wander off to other topics.
Use positive options for consent
Prompt positive responses to your suggestions with questions like “wouldn’t you agree with me …..as I just suggested”, etc. Getting people to commit to do something at the meeting increases the chances that they will act as publicly undertaken.
Highlight the main issue at close
Summarize the main issue at close and this will highlight the concern. Simplify what everyone has to do and set out schedules for action to have everyone agree on these decisions.
Record meeting content
Issue a follow up document or minutes of the meeting after the meeting circulating the action points so that people remember who needs to do what by which deadline and what conclusions and decisions have been taken.
Now think back on all the meetings that you attended – those that you shied away from and the few that you may have enjoyed. Look for reasons why so in both cases and you will be able to easier relate to what has been suggested above. Adopt these measures properly and you will have more participants at your meetings than you may like to accommodate.
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