How To Run a Meeting

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Running Effective Meetings

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Introduction to effective meetings

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 alienate people, poorly run meetings fall short of achieving their stated purpose.

The benefits of well managed meetings include

  • Effective communication
  • Increase motivation and productivity
  • Problems get solved
  • Less conflict than if communicating in email

 

 

Why are meetings so valuable in business?

Meetings are an effective way to bring people together to increase communication effectiveness and achieve results. Here are some interesting facts about communication

  • The written word, i.e. email, only communicates 7% of the true meaning and feeling of the message
  • Only 38% of the meaning and feeling is carried by the spoke word i.e. Teleconference
  • 55% of the meaning and feeling is carried in facial expression and non-verbal signals

Effective meetings that are conducted face to face are the most valuable form of communication available in your business. A lot of people get carried away with the use of technology, and while technology has its place it is important to ensure genuine face to face contact persists.


These new technologies, that are increasingly web based including teleconferencing and video conferencing provide alternatives to the conventional face-to-face meeting. These meeting alternatives often save time (efficiency) and money. However given the communication advantages of the physical face-to-face meeting they will always have their place.


It is important to hold monthly team meetings and change communication meetings, even if it's difficult to justify the time.


Why do we have meetings?

There are many reasons to have a meeting some of the more common reasons are listed below

  • Communication/information sharing
  • Team building
  • Sharing work status
  • Setting objectives
  • Doing work
  • Making a decision
  • Having a discussion
  • Completing some planning
  • Brainstorming or generating ideas
  • Training or sharing knowledge
  • Workshops
  • Managing change/consultation and getting feedback
  • Finding solutions/solving problems
  • Assigning tasks and delegating
  • Teamwork/motivation
  • Emergency/crisis management

 

How to run a meeting: Before The Meeting

All good meetings are the result of preparation, when learning how to run a meeting it is a good idea to find out what preparation is required to ensure your meetings are successful.

  • Define the purpose of the meeting
  • Develop an agenda
  • Identify the outcomes that you are seeking from the meeting
  • Select participants
  • Distribute the agenda and reading material

Learn more about developing an agenda, click here for a free aganda how to guide

 

Define the purpose of the meeting

Make sure the purpose of the meeting is clear the purpose will inform the attendees why they should attend the meeting why the meeting exists. Meetings generally exist to

  • Make decisions
  • Communicate
  • Solve Problems, or
  • Plan work

You will find that many meetings you will have more than one purpose. For example team meetings often include communication and making decisions and good team meetings include some level of planning work.

 

 

Develop an Agenda

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.

One of the tricks to a good agenda is to have a good template, click here to view the different types of agenda templates that you can use.

Click here to discover everything you need to know about developing an agenda.  

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.

 

 

Identify the outcomes that you are seeking from the meeting

This is a tip for more formal meetings however it can also assist you to provide clarity of agenda items in all meetings.

For each agenda item indicate the purpose for agenda item. This will clarify for the attendees what should be expected at each agenda item. Typically each agenda item is on the agenda for the purpose of

  • Making a decision
  • Having a discussion
  • Providing communication
  • Completing some planning
  • Problem solving
  • Brainstorming or generating ideas
  • Getting feedback
  • Team-building/motivation
  • Training or sharing knowledge

 

 

Select Meeting Participants

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. Consider, the more people you have in the meeting the harder it is to make a decision or have constructive discussion.

When planning the participants to your meetings, consider which of the following three categories they fit into  

  • Attendees: Meeting participants who are expected to attend and participate in the meeting
  • Optional attendees: People who may be interested in the meeting outcomes but are not absolutely required to attend for the meeting to meet its goals.
  • Guests: People who are invited to a meeting for a specific purpose, they may attend all or part of the meeting

 

 

How to run a meeting: During The Meeting

After you have completed your meeting planning, the next step in leanring how to run a meeting is to find out what to do during the meeting. As the meeting chair person it is your responsibility to ensure that meeting is a positive experience for all involved.

  • Welcome everyone who attends the meeting, personally if possible
  • Have a few moments of social chat with people who arrive early to the meeting
  • Start the meeting on time
  • Start with a positive statement or praise to the participants
  • Clarify roles, such as minute taker, chair and introduce guests
  • Thank people for their contributions during the meeting
  • Finish the meeting on time

 

 

Time Keeping

It is easy for a meeting to become out of control and consume too much time without delivering results for the time invested. It is important when learning how to run a meeting to have some techniques for keepting your meeting on track.

A few tips for effective time management in meetings include

  • Start on time
  • Assign someone the role of time keeper
  • Use a “parking lot” to keep track of topics people want to discuss but you don’t have time to discuss in this meeting
  • If someone comes in late welcome them, but do not recap what you have already discussed
  • Stick to the agenda

 


How to run a meeting: After The Meeting

Learning how to run a meeting does not stop at the end of the meeting. Depending on the original purpose of the meeting there may now be a lot of work that needs to be done. After the meeting has finished it is important to do the following things

  • Write up the minutes of the meeting within a couple of days of the meeting and distribute to attendees, optional attendees and guests
  • Ensure people who committed to completing actions are aware of their actions and understand what is expected of them. (Assuming that attendees will read the minutes is an unreliable way of ensuring people complete their actions)
  • Update the agenda for your next meeting with any unfinished tasks from this meeting
  • Ask yourself “what can we do different or better next time”

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