How to Conduct Effective Meetings
As a manager, meetings can become a way of life. They can all too often feel like they consume too much time and deliver too few results. But meetings are a good way to communicate, so how can we make them more effective?
What is the Purpose of the Meeting?All meetings should have a purpose. We are meeting to discuss a topic and to reach a decision. The purpose may be to have an update with your staff so the outcome is that you will be informed.
It’s important that everyone attending understands the purpose and the intended outcome of the meeting.
Who Should Attend?This question requires thought, as only people appropriate for the purpose of the meeting should attend. If the purpose of the meeting is a discussion and to reach a decision, the larger the attendance list the less likely you are to achieve a result.
Consider who is necessary:
- People who can provide information.
- People who are part of the decision making process.
- People who need to be informed (though only consider those key people as others can be informed via the minutes of the meeting).
Remember meetings take up time in people’s busy calendar, so only invite those that must be present.
There are also some people who like to be involved in all meetings, whether it is truly applicable to them or not. Once you have decided who the necessary attendees are, do not be pressured by others to include them. Of course you can politely offer to send them the minutes after the meeting.
An AgendaMeetings should have an agenda that is distributed to all attendees prior to the meeting. The agenda should include the topics of the meeting and the timings. The agenda should be distributed ideally a few days in advance, so that the attendees have time to review the purpose and items on the agenda and be able to prepare.
An effective meeting sticks to the timings on the agenda. If an item is beginning to overrun then this should be stopped and arrangements made to continue the discussion at a latter date.
The Meeting FacilitatorSomeone needs to run the meeting. This person makes sure that the meeting runs to time, that everyone is given an opportunity to contribute and that no one person is dominating the meeting, and they bring the meeting to a close, clarifying any decisions made and any follow-on action.
An important role of the meeting facilitator is to ensure that the meeting sticks to the items on the agenda. It is their role to pull the meeting back on track if it begins to discuss other topics.
MinutesDesignate a minute taker at the meeting, who takes notes on the key points raised and any decisions taken. This should not be the meeting facilitator as they will not be able to effectively run the meeting if trying to also take the minutes.
Items documented in the minutes should detail who raised the item and who committed to any action of decision.
If it is an ongoing meeting, that the minutes of the prior meeting should be shared at the onset.