Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Conducting Effective Meetings

Group meetings have a reputation for inefficiency. For instance, noted economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, has said, Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything." When you’re responsible for conducting a meeting, what can you do to make it more efficient and effective? Follow these 12 steps:

  1. Prepare a meeting agenda. An agenda defines what you hope to accomplish at the meeting. It should state the meeting’s purpose; who will be in attendance; what, if any, preparation is required of each participant; a detailed list of items to be covered; the specific time and location of the meeting; and a specific finishing time.

  2. Distribute the agenda in advance. Participants should have the agenda enough ahead of time so they can adequately prepare for the meeting.

  3. Consult with participants before the meeting. An unprepared participant can’t contribute to his or her full potential. It is your responsibility to ensure that members are prepared, so check with them ahead of time.

  4. Get participants to go over the agenda. The first thing to do at the meeting is to have participants review the agenda, make any changes, then approve the final agenda.

  5. Establish specific time parameters. Meetings should begin on time. It is your responsibility to specify these time parameters and to hold to them.

  6. Maintain focused discussion. It is your responsibility to give direction to the discussion; to keep it focused on the issues; and to minimize interruptions, disruptions, and irrelevant comments.

  7. Encourage and support participation of all members. To maximize the effectiveness of problem-oriented meetings, each participant must be encouraged to contribute. Quiet or reserved personalities need to be drawn out so their ideas can be heard.

  8. Maintain a balanced style. The effective group leader pushes when necessary and is passive when need be.

  9. Encourage the clash of ideas. You need to encourage different points of view, critical thinking, and constructive disagreement.

  10. Discourage the clash of personalities. An effective meeting is characterized by the critical assessment of ideas, not attacks on people. When running a meeting, you must quickly intercede to stop personal attacks or other forms of verbal insult.

  11. Be an effective listener. You need to listen with intensity, empathy, objectivity, and do whatever is necessary to get the full intended meaning from each participant’s comments.

  12. Bring proper closure. You should close a meeting by summarizing the group’s accomplishments; clarifying what actions, if any, need to follow the meeting; and allocating follow-up assignments. If any decisions are made, you also need to determine who will be responsible for communicating and implementing them.

(source: unknown)