Meetings are an effective way to bring people together to increase communication effectiveness, collaboration and to achieve results.
Meetings result in far more effective communication than either email or teleconferences. This is true because 55% of the meaning and feeling associated with a message is delivered through facial expression and non-verbal signals.
Email is effective in communicating only 7% of the true meaning and feeling of a message and teleconferences communicate only 38%.
What is an effective meeting? This occurs when people leave a meeting feeling energised, positive about the use of their time and with a sense that progress has been made.
Effective meetings can assist you to generate ideas, plan work, keep your people informed and assist with doing work.
However, when meetings are poorly planned and managed they become an unwanted distraction that alienates people and they fall short of achieving their stated purpose.
The benefits of well-managed meetings include;
Which occurs more often when
There are many reasons to have a meeting some of the more common reasons are
To ensure your meetings are effective you will need to invest up to 1 hour on preparation, this preparation will include
The purpose will inform the attendees why they should attend the meeting and why the meeting exists. For example
You will find that many efective meetings will have more than one purpose. For example team meetings often include some communication updates, making decisions and some level of planning work.
Once you have a purpose you will need to construct an agenda that will meet that stated purpose.
Generally you put the more urgent and important items at the beginning of the agenda and the less important things at the end. (In case you run out of time)
Click here to view the different types of agenda templates that you can use.
Prior to any meeting you can circulate the agenda and ask if anyone has any other business, this will eliminate people raising issues at the end of the meeting.
Discover more on developing an agenda with our detailed how to guide
You will find that almost everyone is already busy, so it is important to only invite the people that you need to achieve the outcomes of the meeting. However, don’t leave out any key people.
The ideal number of participants in a meeting depends on the purpose of the meeting.
Communication meetings can have unlimited participants, where problem solving meetings should have between 6 and 10 participants. The more people you have in the meeting the harder it is to make a decision or have a constructive discussion. When planning the participants to your meetings, consider which of the following three categories they fit into
Note: When running large programs I will talk to all of my key stakeholders about the various meetings I am going to run and I confirm with them my choices about including or excluding them from specific meetings.
What to do during the meeting? As the meeting chairperson it is your responsibility to ensure that meeting is a positive experience for all involved.
Tip: In environments where people attend a lot of meetings I will often start a meeting 5 minutes past the hour or 5 minutes past the half hour to allow people time to get from their previous meeting.
It is easy for an effective meeting to become out of control and consume too much time without delivering results for the time invested.
A few tips for effective time management in meetings include
Depending on the original purpose of the meeting there may now be a lot of work that needs to be done after the meeting
Leadership is an investment in people: putting the effort into planning and running each of your meetings is one way that you can show that you believe other peoples time is important and that you respect their time.