Friday, November 11, 2011

Conducting Effective Meetings

Due to popular demand, this month's blog will focus on the ability and tools needed to conduct effective meetings. From years of experience I have observed that the scarcity of effective leaders and managers. Heading one's staff into submission by using fear does not make anyone a good manager and certainly not a leader in any sense of the word. I had the great opportunity to attend a training on the many ways of conducting great meetings.  Initially I didn't think that they could teach me anything new, but I was wrong. I walked away energized with new tools to add to my repertoire.

Ask anyone what makes a meeting a bad experience and people will be talking and sharing examples until the cows come home. Here are just a few examples that colleagues have shared with me:

  • Too much rambling on and on about nothing
  • No agenda or no following of an existing agenda
  • Poor facilitation skills
  • Too boring and monotone
  • Nothing to really talk about 

Who to have at your meeting?

  • Those who can benefit 
  • Those who can contribute 
The following are the stages of a meeting:
  • Planning
  • Organization and Coordination
  • Conducting or Facilitation
  • Concluding / Wrap Up
Many managers call meetings all the time without substance, but merely as a soapbox.  Conducting meetings just to report out on what a department has been doing is a waste of time, money and an insult staff members. This happens in the non-profit, corporate and governmental entities every single day. Attendees all dread such meetings and entertain themselves by secretly checking their email, text messages and dreaming of the death of the so-called leaders. The following are reasons to conduct a meeting:
  • To discuss a hot issue or crisis
  • Update staff members about an important issue
  • Team meeting
  • Strategic planning with an outcome and a call to action
  • Good news to be shared
  • Key management issues that are not about simply reporting out about what each manager did last week. Even managers get bored with poor leadership which seems to exists more and more.
  • Forecast or Planning for the future of the organization
There are a variety of roles that are necessary to conduct an effective meeting. Those include:
  • Facilitator or Leader
  • Participant
  • Scribe - All to often meetings are conducted and no one ever records notes from the meeting, making it difficult for hold members accountable
  • Time keeper - Keeps one "big mouth" from having diarrhea of the mouth
  • Parking lot attendant - The role monitors what items need to be placed on hold for later discussion
Creating an agenda can make your meeting successful and efficient. Most of you know what need to go in an agenda, but it's always nice to have a refresher. Being at a meeting without an agenda is like being at a restaurant without a menu.  Always include:
  • Pre-meeting preparation
  • Purpose of the meeting
  • Time allocation
  • Topics / Items
  • Date of meeting
  • Time of meeting
  • Location of meeting
  • Action Items / Tasks
Tip for conducting effective meetings:  We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.  Two ears to listen and to hear better. One mouth to speak clearly.

Please feel free to share your thoughts about great meetings and bad meetings with us. May your next meeting be an effective one.