Managing effective meetings

If you are responsible for running meetings, and aren’t quite sure how best to go about creating an effective meeting experience, here are a few key steps to successful meeting management.

1. Meet with a purpose
If you ask most people, they have been to one too many meetings that seemed (whether or not accurately so) to have no purpose. Be sure to call a meeting only if you have a clear reason for doing so. It doesn’t matter what your reason might be. If you need information from the group, set a clear agenda with key questions ahead of time.

If you want to share information, draft an outline of your key points. If you just want to get the team together to allow for bonding time, then organise it so that you have the right environment.

2. Communicate your purpose/agenda
So, you know why you’re meeting, now, tell everyone else why you are. Be sure to let all attendees know how long the meeting will be, where it will be, and what information is to be covered.

Be sure to let them also know what the goal of the meeting is—what deliverables, outcomes, etc. are expected so they can come prepared. Just because you’ve called the meeting doesn’t mean you’re the only one who has to do the talking.

Enable them to participate — sharing relevant information ahead of time, will ensure they come prepared to contribute, and take the spotlight off of you at the same time!

3. Supporting materials
Come prepared with the appropriate supporting materials. If this is an information gathering session, bring forms or tools for completion. Presentation? Bring slides/handouts, etc. Whatever will support communication of your key points, gathering of the required information, or structuring of the discussion should be included to create a stronger sense that everyone’s time is being well spent.

4. Everyone present for a purpose
Please ensure that every single individual invited to the meeting is there for a reason. And, more importantly, that each attendee clearly understands his/her specific role.

When planning your meeting consider team members’ roles. How can they contribute? Do they have key information, skills, experience that you can leverage in the meeting? Help them feel useful by letting them know the important role you’d like them to play.

Also helpful in running effective meetings, is to assign meeting management roles before you begin the meetings. Some specific meeting facilitation roles might include:
Scribe: to record key information, and meeting minutes
Flipchart recorder: to capture key points, questions visually on flipcharts
Timekeeper: to help keep to the agenda

5. Outcomes/agreements captured and reviewed
Before you end the meeting, review the agreed upon action items, along with the responsible parties for each item as discussed during the meeting. If you’ve assigned meeting scribes or flipchart recorders, then this step should be relatively simple.

6. Next steps defined
Discuss roundabout timeframes for completion of action items, and also make sure to review next steps. Set expectations now for a follow-up meeting, should one be required. Let everyone know what you anticipate will need to be covered in the next meeting.

7. Show your appreciation
Every single person’s time is precious. So, be sure to thank them for their participation and contributions. Motivate key participants by letting them know after the meeting just how helpful their contributions were during the meeting. This will help to ensure that next time you need to have a meeting, you’ll find willing participants ready to go.

8. Reflect on your process
Identify what went well, and what didn’t.

Send your burning questions about managing meetings to Liz Kentish, The FM Coach on Tel: 01778 561326 / 07717 870777 or email: coach@lizkentishcoaching.co.uk


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