Hints for effective meetings


Many people complain about ineffective meetings. If you want to lead or participate in effective meetings, then this free article by Derek Stockley provides hints and guidelines for success. Derek conducts regular training courses in meeting management/facilitation, see: Facilitation Skills.

Effective meetings improve business management

Ineffective meetings are often identified as a major timewaster by participants in time management courses I conduct.

As mentioned at health and safety meetings and effective human resource management, a well run and effective meeting can have significant benefits.

A meeting does not have to go on for hours.

Achieving success with meetings seems relatively simple - it is a straightforward process.

Meeting success is achieved when you follow the rules. It is a process that includes some key actions.

The basics include:

  • Having a clear purpose for the meeting.

  • Appointing a 'chairman'* to lead and control the meeting.

  • Having an agenda, preferably distributed prior to the meeting, which states the meeting purpose and key discussion points.

  • Starting the meeting on time.

  • Confirming the agenda and meeting priorities at the start of the meeting. If possible, allocate time periods for each agenda item depending on their importance.

  • Proceeding through the agenda - discussing and agreeing action items.

  • Recording decisions and action items (including who is responsible).

  • Finishing on time - agreeing to next time and date (if a meeting is about to run over time, the chairman should seek approval to do so).

  • Distributing minutes of the meeting, preferably within 24 hours.

A frequent comment I receive is: "That’s OK if you are chairing the meeting, but what can you do if you are only a participant?

I reply: "You do not have to be the appointed chairman to control a meeting."

There are a lot of strategies, but it is possible to control a meeting as a participant. For example, asking a question ("Have we decided to ..... then?") can re-focus the meeting on the primary task.

It takes courage to lead 'from the floor'. But it can be done.

If you attend a regular meeting that wastes your time, then you have to decide whether it will continue in the same vein. Sometimes, a 'quiet word' with the chairman may help. Something subtle, like distributing a copy of this article, may help!

Conclusion

Meetings have significant advantages, provided that they are well conducted. Success comes from a strong adherence to a good process and following some essential rules. Meeting control is very important - it can be exercised by participants, although action by the chairman is always preferable.

Note

* I normally refrain from using gender related terms. I have used 'chairman' instead of 'chair' in this article. Frankly, 'chair' just did not fit as I read my draft. Please accept chairman as a term applying to both men and women in the same way that manager is now commonly accepted as referring to both genders.

Previous article:

Health and safety meetings and effective human resource management- provides insight into how workplace health and safety meetings provide a pointer to the effective management of human resources.

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Derek Stockley conducts a variety of public training courses in Australia.