Is your organisation bogged down by ineffective meetings that serve no other purpose than to waste time? If so, you need to read this article.
Whether you like them or not, meetings are a necessity, and can be used for a myriad of different reasons, icluding:
- Focusing your team on the task at hand
- Improving inter and intra team communication
- Empowering your team with decision-making
- Collective problem solving and brainstorming
Irrespective of whether you are running a virtual meeting, face-to-face or over-the-phone meeting, there are 5 key steps you need to follow if you want it to be a success:
Define the Objective
Meetings must have an objective; a specific reason for their existence… You should never organise a meeting just for the sake of having a meeting. Before you send out the calendar invite, as yourself two simple questions:
- What do you hope to accomplish from the meeting?
- What do participants stand to gain from attending the meeting?
Design the Meeting
Now that you know what the objective of the meeting is, how are you going to run the meeting? Without proper planning, the chances of your meeting going off track, running overtime, and failing to meet it’s objective increase dramatically. Here are some questions you need to ask:
- What is the right format for the meeting? (Virtual, face-to-face, over the phone etc)
- How much time is required for the meeting? Define agenda and timeline.
- Who should be involved in the meeting, and what are they expected to contribute or gain?
- When is the most appropriate time to schedule the meeting?
- How will you prepare participants for the meeting?
Manage the Meeting
Ok. Having a plan is one thing. Sticking to it is a completely different ball game. As the meeting manager, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring that it stays on track. Here are some suggestions to help you stay on top of things:
- Welcome participants and reiterate the objective of the meeting.
- Share the agenda, timeline and ground rules. Explain how the meeting will be run
- Highlight the ‘Parking Lot’, and explain that it is to KIV off track topics.
- Provide a safe environment where everyone contributes equally.
- Be strict on time. Start on time and end on time.
Manage the Personalities
There will always be some participants who want to dominate a meeting. Likewise, there will always be some participants who want to hide in the shadows. Here are some suggestions to help you manage these personalities:
- Allocate 2-5 minutes for quiet time, so that everyone can think in peace.
- Use facilitation cards and ask all participants to write down their ideas or thoughts.
- Direct specific questions to quieter participants.
- Allocate tasks to more vocal / dominant participants.
- Thanks more vocal / dominant participants for sharing, and ask other participants for their view.
Conclude the Meeting
Nothing derails future meetings more than previous meetings that lead to nothing. It’s important that your meeting achieve it’s objective, and that the participants believe they have gained from attending the meeting. With this in mind, here are some suggestions on how to conclude a meeting:
- Reiterate the objective of the meeting
- Summarise what was discussed in the meeting
- Highlight the specific outcomes / action items that came from the meeting
- Explain how and when you will follow up on the meeting
- Send participants a detailed summary of the meeting
There you have it… 5 Steps for ensuring your meetings are a success. Whilst I am sure there are many other factors to take into consideration, these steps will get you going in the right direction.