Here are a few additional thoughts on meetings….
Effective meetings begin and end with common courtesy. The Golden Rule of Meetings is: Do onto others what you’d want done to yourself. Take a moment to recall all those things that frustrate you about meetings – and don’t repeat the most common mistakes. Good meetings don’t happen by chance; they are a by-product of a thoughtful person who plans in advance. So, in the interest of workplace sanity, we are forwarding a few thoughts on how to run an effective meeting. Let’s start with the call of the meeting…
If you are arranging the meeting, make sure to circulate an agenda to the participants. If you are being called to a meeting, ask for the agenda. The ideal is for everyone to understand the purpose of the meeting. A printed agenda ensures everyone will be on the same page.
In preparing for the meeting, you should take some time to acquaint yourself with the meeting’s issues and prepare in advance for the discussions. If you are Chair, be sure to have the best people possible at the meeting to speak on the particular issues. And, be sure everyone has as much information as they need to prepare for the meeting.
Once people are gathered, be sure that all expectations are expressed and understood. Place the issues into context and ensure everyone is aligned with the purpose(s) of the meeting. It is important to start the dialogue with everyone at an initial point of understanding.
The best meetings will start on time and finish on time. Punctuality certainly sets the tone of the meeting and, in many cases, can drive the participants towards the objectives. A good meeting will also ensure all participants contribute to meeting the objectives and mutual expectations of the gathering. Most importantly, well-run meetings will remain orderly and focused on the objectives at hand.
Lastly, a good meeting will end with a review of the decisions made. There will also be a review of the action items arising from the decisions of the meeting. By reviewing decisions and action items in a recap, all participants will leave the meeting room with a clear understanding of outcomes and follow-up. In this way, everyone will have a feeling that the time around the table was not only well spent, but also a positive experience.
FIVE RULES OF EFFECTIVE MEETINGS
- Have an agenda, circulate it prior to the meeting, and then stick to it!
- Prepare yourself – know the issues and consider how you will contribute to the discussions.
- Prepare others – announce your expectations at the beginning of the meeting and ensure any support materials are circulated.
- If you chair the meeting – start and finish on time and engage all participants. If you’re a participant, support the Chair in his/her efforts to adhere to the agenda.
- Conclude by reviewing action items the group are tasked to follow-through on – and set a timeline and reporting-in process for action items.
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