Most managers feel they spend too many times in meetings. However, a well-run meeting can be a productive way to communicate. When you are chairing a meeting, stay in control of the proceedings, and never let arguments get out of hand.
Preparing For A Meeting
When preparing for a meeting, ask yourself four key questions:
- What is the meeting for?
- Why is it being called?
- How will I know if it has been successful?
- Who should attend?
These questions will determine if the meeting is necessary. All meetings should have a purpose that will be achieved by their end. If final decisions are not made, there should be at least a plan of action. The most effective meetings are usually small with only vital people attending.
Opening A Meeting
After making all necessary introductions, remind all those present of the meeting’s purpose; what outcome is expected to deliver; and when it will end. If there are ground rules, state them right away. Check that anybody has any relevant papers and the agenda is approved. If there has been a previous meeting, minutes may need approval and discussion, but do not discuss anything that already features on the agenda. Instead, go straight into the first item, preferably calling upon another participant to initiate the discussion.
Conducting A Meeting
Strike a balance between keeping the discussion process moving briskly forward and ensuring that everyone who wants to speak has a chance to state their opinion. The custom of debating an issue until a decision is made can be time-consuming and lead to tension. To prevent this, act as a timekeeper (make sure you have a clock or clock to hand). Set time limits t discussions so you can end the meeting at the appointed time.
Closing A Meeting
Allow yourself enough time for winding a meeting. Summarize the discussion and check that others agree with your account; make decisions about unfinished business (which may include nominating someone to deal with it); and, finally, run through the implementation of any decisions taken, that is, the actions that will be the result of the meeting. Assign each action to a person, and attach a time target for completion.
- Circulate all relevant paper before the start a meeting.
- If a meeting is mainly for making decisions, ensure they are made.
- If you are acting as a chairperson, do not manipulate the meeting to your advantage.
- Use humour when appropriate to help produce a consensus.
- Make sure you stick to the time limits for each item on an agenda.