How to Run an Effective Meeting
Meetings are such a scorned aspect of working life because they often allowed to serve no purpose beyond wasting everybody’s time. Running an effective meeting is an art that requires good management and planning.
Worthwhile Staff MeetingIn getting people together to make something happen, meetings play a crucial role in the inner workings of an organisation. Unfortunately they are more likely to inspire dread than excitement because poor planning and management are responsible for many drifting off into an aimless and unproductive borefest.
If you are in charge of making a meeting happen then you have an important responsibility to make sure that everyone’s time and attention is not been wasted and to ensure that staff leave feeling satisfied that something worthwhile has been achieved.
Why are we Having a Meeting?Before a meeting takes place all attendees should aware of the subjects being addressed, and what the aims and expectations are. The answer to the question, ‘why are we having a meeting?’ should prompt a purposeful answer relating to an action or a decision and not, ‘because we always have a meeting on a Wednesday’.
If your organisation goes for more formal planning then a circulated agenda will be expected before the event. Otherwise an email can be sent around explaining what the point of the meeting is, what’s going to be discussed and what staff should prepare or think about before turning up. It will help maintain a degree of order and focus, and keep talk from veering off into inconsequential rambles or personal whinges.
Agendas and email proposals should encourage people to help map out and contribute to the meeting plans. Helping make a team feel that they have a role to play in shaping the meeting will give them a sense of responsibility for what is due to take place.
Open CommunicationThis attitude of open communication and contribution should extend into the meeting itself. It’s your job as ringmaster to make sure that everyone is given their chance to speak. If you have requested members prepare work or ideas for the event then don’t forget to manage time to enable them to present their contributions.
By encouraging everyone to speak you are opening up your meeting to the more dominating personalities in the group. Another key role as the meeting manager is orchestrating these people so that they don’t becoming overbearing and stifle the free interchange of ideas and thoughts.
But it’s also important to remember that although every attendee should be treated with respect in being encouraged to present their opinions and ideas, there will always be more reserved members of group that prefer to listen than take an active role and so shouldn’t be bullied into making a contribution. It doesn’t mean they won’t make a valuable contribution as a result of attending the meeting.
Listen and take ActionAs a ringleader with a set of objectives and a limited time frame, it is your responsibility to guide the opinions and ideas expressed into an agreed course of action before the clock runs down. The team should leave the meeting with a clear idea of what is now due to happen, what responsibilities they have committed themselves to and what the intended outcome will be.
However, your role as meeting organiser doesn’t end when the satisfied attendees file out of the room. The meeting has only proposed objectives and solutions, in order for the meeting to be a success it is your responsibility to make sure these plans are followed through. To ensure that the attendees haven’t forgotten everything as soon as they disappeared through the door, a follow-up set or minutes or email notes should be circulated to highlight what was agreed on at the end of the meeting and who is expected to do what.