In the past couple of articles we have talked about planning meetings, organising meetings, etc. However, conducting meetings effectively is equally important, perhaps more so. A common feeling about meetings is that they are often a waste of time and resources. However, they are a necessity too when you have to discuss important issues and make major decisions.
Most meetings are not planned accordingly and end up being boring and unproductive. To run an effective meeting, you need to consider the following points.
Plan Ahead of time
When you are planning for a meeting, you need to consider what type of meeting is it going to be? Is it an Action Oriented Meeting, a Brainstorming or Creative Meeting, a Short Term Planning Meeting or a Long Term Planning Meeting. Depending on it, you would need to prepare the attendee list.
Make sure it’s all according to the plan
To make sure that your meeting planning is not a waste of time and resources for everyone attending, re-confirm your attendee list with the meetings original plan. Has some recent issue made the meeting irrelevant? or Is someone important to the plan of meeting unable to make it? If that’s the case, consider cancelling the meeting and rescheduling it. There is no harm in cancelling it if you can’t go about the original meeting agenda.
Set goals and agenda in advance
Once again, you need to plan ahead in time, set an agenda and make sure that everyone of the attendees receive a copy well in advance to prepare for it. Also mention the time that will be spent in discussing each agenda item.
Control the flow of the meeting
If you are running a meeting - it’s your responsibility to control it. Don’t let people drift away from the main agenda. Keep them in check by letting them know when they are drifting away. Keep it moving forward, try to touch all the points set in agenda and in the time that is set for each agenda item. It’s a good idea to have a clock in the open that people can look at.
Make sure all attendees give their input
You should make sure that everyone of the attendees gets to have a say in the meeting and that it is not dominated by excited individuals. Some people may be outright shy and you might need to motivate them to get their thoughts in.
Make sure everyone knows the outcome
Closing a meeting by scheduling another meeting for the same issue is a waste of time and your management skills. You can’t accomplish anything different from that. Make sure you run every meeting effectively and at the end of it let all attendees know what’s next. Close your meeting with an Action Plan.
Even after the meeting ends, keep track on the progress of the Action Plan that was formulated at the end of meeting. If there are to be major changes, plan another meeting.
Also, in case someone missed the meeting, make sure they are informed of the meeting’s outcomes and plans for the future. Here is an interesting article on Businessweek’s website about how Google conducts its meetings.