How to conduct effective meetings

Is your calendar overflowing with meetings? As they can be a major disruption to your workday and productivity, we believe you should only have a meeting when there’s something worth sharing.

Personally speaking, there are lots of meetings I’ve sat through and thought, this is a complete waste of my time!

Most of us want to be productive and we can often end up feeling like time spent in a meeting could be better spent elsewhere.

The most common causes of ineffective meetings are no clear aim, no agenda or no clear outcomes.

At times attendees can end up leaving with more questions than answers!

Jason Fried is an advocate of just sacking meetings and seeing what happens. But what if you need to have a team meeting?

The ability to run effective meetings can be a critical skill to have as a manager… So, how can you do it right?

Let’s look at nine tips to help you run effective team meetings.

1. Identify the Purpose of the Meeting

First off, ask yourself, what do I hope to achieve with this meeting? You need to be specific.

Once you have the meeting’s goal and objectives, you can then start to think about when to schedule it and get cracking on an agenda.

2. Create an Agenda

How to conduct effective meetings

Creating an agenda will help keep your meeting on track. Start with an outline of the themes you want to cover.

Once you have your structure in place, assign a time limit to each section. This will help prevent the meeting from overrunning or later sections being neglected.

3. Add Discussion Topics

Now, it’s time to add some meat to the bones!

Under each section, detail discussion topics in bullet points. The more detailed you are here, the better.

Adding discussion topics will help to keep the meeting on target and remind you what the objective is.

4. Share the Agenda BEFORE the Meeting

By sharing the agenda before the meeting, you give attendees a chance to prepare and get familiar with the topics of discussion.

This should help you get started straight away and team members will hopefully come to the meeting full of ideas and solutions.

How to conduct effective meetings

If you’re using a team collaboration tool like Tameday to schedule the meeting, you can simply attach your agenda to the event.

5. Who’s Taking Notes?

Notes will be a written record of the meeting — what’s been discussed, actions and who’s been assigned what.

Notes are great for sharing with those who were unable to attend or had to leave early.

Assign someone to do this. It can be done digitally or old school using pen and paper, then typed up.

If you’re using Tameday, you can then simply add these notes to the meeting event.

Jeff Bezos’ Three Rules for Meetings at Amazon

  1. He creates teams that are no larger than can be fed by two pizzas.
  2. No PowerPoints are used. Instead, six-page structured memos of sentences, not bullet points, are prepared in advance.
  3. Everybody sits around the table and reads the memo silently for 30 mins or however long it takes. Then, they discuss it.

6. Start on Time

How to conduct effective meetings

If you want to achieve your goals and outcomes, it’s best to start a meeting on time.

Otherwise, you end up wasting everyone’s time for someone who might not show up at all.

If someone comes in late and see you’ve started without them, then next time they may make more of an effort to be there on time.

The first five minutes of a meeting are the most important as they set the tone for the rest of the meeting.

You should establish why the meeting has been called, how long it will last and what needs to be done.

You might say something like:

“We are here to talk about X and to come to a decision and resolution on this problem. Here is the information that we have and the alternatives we’ve considered.”

7. Encourage Participation

How to conduct effective meetings

For an effective meeting, you need to create an environment where everyone is willing to share their ideas and thoughts.

Effective leaders will take on the role of a facilitator and encourage those who are less confident to share their thoughts and ideas.

This is another benefit of sharing the agenda before the meeting — most attendees should hopefully have had time to think and come ready with questions and ideas.

8. Assign Actions

As the meeting progresses, a number of resulting action items should be created.

If you’re a Tameday user, you can easily set the action items up as to-dos during or after the meeting and assign them to the relevant member of your team.

How to conduct effective meetings

It’s a good idea to agree upon and set a realistic completion date for each action item.

9. Share Information

If you’re still using email, try to share the notes and outcomes of the meeting as soon as possible.

One of tthe benefits of using Tameday for note-taking and task assignment is that by the time team members have returned to their desks they will have the meeting outcomes and any action items will be in their to-do lists.

It really is a more efficient and effective way of running a meeting (and a team)!

Final Thoughts

When it comes to meetings, we believe there are lots that can be avoided by using instant chat or online discussion platforms.

So, next time you need to set up a team meeting, take a moment to think if there’s another way the information can be shared with others.

We do understand there are times when meeting in person is necessary — for these meetings to be effective, they need to be well-planned using the advice outlined above.

If you want to use Tameday to run the different aspects of a meeting: share an agenda, notes and task assignment… then you can sign up for a free 30-day trial and start boosting your team’s productivity today!

How to conduct effective meetings

It’s easy to walk into the first meeting with a prospective client and let them take the reins. After all, they were the one who reached out to you, right? But that mistake could have far-reaching effects on your relationship with them as a client and, not only that, it could adversely affect the rest of your business.

In order to run more effective client meetings, you must position yourself as an expert and authority right from the start. In the video and recap below, I’ll share with you my five-step framework for accomplishing this.

How to Run More Effective Client Meetings

Even if a prospect or client sends you information ahead of a scheduled meeting, there’s more to preparing for it than just reading through the notes.

With the following framework, you’ll see that initial meetings with prospects (and later ones with them as clients) become a platform through which you demonstrate your expertise and authority. By taking control of the meeting, asking the right questions and ensuring that your client is on board every step of the way, they’ll feel more at ease, which will lead to greater trust in what you do.

To establish this framework for your own business, start here:

Step 1: Set the Agenda

One of the benefits of following a consistent process is that it gives you confidence in what you do. This is why it’s absolutely critical to have a framework in place for initial meetings with prospects or clients.

They’re going to walk into this first meeting wondering how it’s going to go and what they should ask. But you’re going to be ready to take control the second they show up in person, over the phone or on Zoom.

You: “Thanks for taking the time to meet with me today. I have another meeting to attend in 45 minutes, so I’d like to get us started on the agenda, so we have time to cover everything.”

Client: They nod in agreement and begin to relax as you’ve taken control.

You: “I received your original inquiry. Thanks for being so thorough. I just want to get crystal-clear on the objectives and deliverables. Is that okay?”

Client: Again, they nod in agreement and relax even further as you demonstrate that you know exactly what you’re doing.

This will set the tone not just for this first interaction, but for every interaction you have with them in the future. It lets them know that you’re the expert, and they can 100% put their trust in you to handle things.

Step 2: Confirm the Decision Maker Is Present

Ideally, before a meeting is scheduled, you’re able to confirm who the decision maker is (i.e. the person who approves the deliverables and writes the checks). To be on the safe side, you should confirm this is the case before you move on in the meeting.

You: “Just to confirm, who will be the decision maker on this project?”

Client: If they say “me” or name someone else present, then you’re good to go. If not, kindly ask them to reschedule.

This isn’t a slight to the second-in-command. These people are often an integral part of keeping things moving on a project. However, it doesn’t make much sense to talk about objectives with someone who won’t be making the call on whether or not you’ve successfully met them.

Step 3: Record the Conversation

It’s important to record the initial meeting with clients. For starters, it frees you up to focus on the conversation rather than jotting down notes. Secondly, it’s always a good idea to have a record of the most pertinent details of a job. You never know when you’ll need to go back and review them (like when drawing up the details of your proposal).

If you’re using a tool like Skype or Zoom to host your meetings, they come with built-in recorders. If you’re meeting in person, then a call recorder app on your phone will do.

Before you hit that “Record” button, though, you should ask the prospect for permission.

You: “I’d like to record this meeting to make sure we don’t miss anything. Is that okay with you?”

In posing this question to them, you’ll again reinforce the idea that you’re an expert with a process they can trust.

Step 4: Understand the Goals & Objectives

For many designers and agencies, this is the hardest part of the process to adjust to. That’s because, if this call were driven by the client (which you may be accustomed to), then you’ve been trained to talk about yourself and your experience, the ideas you have for the website, the themes and plugins you plan to use, and so on. But you have to resist that temptation.

This call isn’t about you or what you want to do. This is about exploring their goals and objectives, and really drilling down into what they need.

You’re going to accomplish this by using the Go Wide Go Deep method.

You: “Why do you need this website?”

Client: “I want to double my email list in the next 12 months.”

You: “How will that impact your business?”

Client: “Well, I mostly host free webinars right now, but would like to do more paid seminars and retreats.”

You: “And once you’ve doubled your email list, how will that make things better for you?”

Client: “I really enjoy training my clients, but don’t have much time for it because I have so much planning and marketing to do for my webinars. With more paying clients, I won’t have to hustle so much and can focus on what I enjoy doing.”

Using this process, you’ll be able to identify why this project is important to your client and create a clear vision for what success looks like at the end of it. Your clients often don’t even know what this looks like, so this exercise will be useful for both you and them.

Step 5: Send a Recap

After the meeting, you should follow up with a recap of the meeting. Like you, your client wasn’t sitting through the meeting jotting down notes. So, this is a nice way to say “Hey, I got you covered”.

The recap should be a brief rundown of what you discussed, including the project’s objectives, the budget as well as the measurements for success. You’ll follow up with more specifics in the proposal. For now, though, this primes them for the much bigger pitch to come.

It also reinforces your authority in this relationship, so they can rest easy knowing you’ve got everything under control. This is a sure-fire way to ensure that you have more effective client meetings.

Wrap-Up

Now that you have this framework, it’s time to look at what your next steps are. First, you need to add this framework into your workflow. The more consistent you are in using this process in client meetings, the more natural it will feel.

Next, if you’re ready to take your business to the next level, sign up for this free webinar. You’ll learn how to attract better clients, make more money and be much happier in what you do.

7 Tips for a Well Run Meeting

How to conduct effective meetings

Do you dread attending the weekly staff meeting? Do you ever find yourself sitting there, twirling your pen, and resisting the temptation to peek at your Smartphone, wondering why on earth you are there when you have so many other things to do? Or worse, are you at the head of the table leading the meeting as you observe other’s disinterest? You are not alone. Poorly managed meetings are a productivity killer and they certainly don’t help employee morale. Say goodbye to those boring meetings and learn how to conduct effective meetings that leave employees engaged and motivated.

7 Tips For Effective Meetings

Establish the Meeting’s Objective

Before sending out a meeting alert and putting it on your calendar, ask yourself why you want to hold a meeting and determine the objective. Is it a meeting to bring employees up to speed on a change in management? Are you making a decision regarding a project? Is it a brainstorming session for a new business strategy? Be certain that gathering employees in a room for face-to-face discussion and interaction is necessary for your objective; if the purpose of the meeting is a status update, perhaps sending out a group email is ​a better use of everyone’s time.

Communicate the Purpose of the Meeting

When inviting others to your meeting, be clear about the purpose of the meeting. This will not only keep you focused but will enable employees to attend the meeting prepared either with documents or with thoughts on the matter at hand. Communication is essential for an effective meeting.

Be Selective about Attendees

No one appreciates attending a meeting that has no connection to them or their work. Determine who really needs to be there and why. Whose input do you need? Which colleagues must participate and will likely have questions on the matter? If someone is on your list that simply needs to be informed of what was discussed, then do them a favor and take them off the list. They can be easily updated with a follow-up email. Time is valuable and no employer wants to negatively impact productivity by having employees sit in on meetings that are unnecessary.

You Must Create a Meeting Agenda

Holding a meeting without a set meeting agenda is akin to climbing into a sailboat and hoping the wind takes you where you want to go. You will – quite literally – be lost at sea. Your meeting agenda will guide you to your final destination. Include topics to be discussed and who will be addressing each item if others are taking part. Email the agenda to attendees ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect and comes prepared.

Stick to Your Plan

Even the best-planned meeting will go awry if the discussion gets derailed and goes off on tangential topics. This is why most meetings fail to achieve their objective – they do not stay on track. At the outset of your meeting, establish ground rules and a specified time allotment for each item on your agenda as well as the overall meeting. For example, “Thank you for coming today. Everyone’s time is valuable and it is my goal to keep this meeting to less than an hour. Let’s stick to the items at hand and reserve discussion on other subjects for a later time.” Rein in anyone who is monopolizing the discussion or introducing topics, not on the agenda.

Keep Them Engaged

Visual aids go a long way in keeping everyone focused on the meeting and not on their phones or the clock. Post the agenda on a Smart Board in the front of the room. Project visuals onto a large screen using a computer; anything to keep their eyes up front.

Summarize the Meeting

Ever leave a meeting and have a totally different takeaway than your colleague? Make sure this doesn’t happen with your meeting by emailing a follow up within 24 hours. Include a summary, highlight key topics addressed, tasks assigned and indicate deadlines. Sending this out in a timely fashion will ensure that attendees don’t head in the wrong direction.

May 14, 2018 – Warren Fowler

We’ve all experienced meetings where our minds drift and we wonder why on earth we are wasting our time. Some meetings certainly are unproductive and a waste of time. However, business meetings are an essential way to communicate and necessary for making effective decisions.

Your co-workers won’t appreciate having to attend meandering, pointless meetings. Many people feel that meetings are the biggest time waster at work. Here are six must-know tips on how to conduct a productive meeting.

1. Know the goal of the meeting

Is your meeting intended to generate new ideas, make decisions or gather information? Perhaps it’s a combination of all three? If you don’t know what you want to accomplish, you can be pretty sure it won’t happen.

If you set a specific goal for a meeting, people are better prepared. Perhaps the goal of the meeting is to brainstorm new project ideas. If attendees have an agenda, they can come up with ideas prior to the meeting so that no time is wasted when the meeting begins.

Serious decisions may require pre-wiring. In essence, this involves communicating one-on-one with people before the meeting about a decision. When this is done, the meeting has more chance of being successful.

2. Prepare an agenda

A vague intention to cover a certain topic in a meeting does not produce effective results. You need to prepare a specific agenda for a meeting and make sure it is in the hands of the people who will attend at least the day before. Everyone attending a meeting should have a clear idea of why they are gathered and what needs to be accomplished.

Make sure that your agenda includes who will attend, the time and location, a list of the topics to be covered and a brief description of the objectives of the meeting. Any background information attendees need to know may also be included.

If you have a weekly meeting to discuss the status of a project, preparing a template for an agenda that allows you to fill in the blanks each week helps to save time.

3. Make sure the right people attend

You need to carefully consider who to invite to a meeting. The people in the room can make or break the meeting. You need to invite those who will help you to achieve your objectives. Limit the number of attendees as far as possible because it’s more difficult to pick up on body language if the room is full and the more people there are, the less pressure they feel to participate.

David May of ResumesPlanet suggests using the well-known 2/3 rule. He says “only those affected by at least two out of three items on the agenda should be invited to attend a business meeting. When people don’t think the topic is relevant to them and don’t see how they can assist, they are sure to feel they are wasting time.”

How to conduct effective meetings

4. Pay attention to time

When no-one is conscious of the time, it is easy to go on for too long and become unfocused. If you are leading a meeting, you should try to start and finish on time. If you regularly hold meetings, people will know you start and end promptly and are more likely to attend your meetings.

You want to make every second count, and this is where your agenda comes in handy. You can prioritize important topics and allow a specific time for each topic. You could put the agenda up on a whiteboard for others to see to help keep attendees focused.

It’s very likely that 30 minutes into a meeting, attention is not as sharp as it was at the beginning. The longer meetings drag on, the fewer people pay attention. Meetings should not go on for longer than an hour if you help it.

5. Keep the focus, avoid going off topic

This does not mean being so inflexible that you ignore interesting points that are raised if they do not relate to the agenda. A good way to handle this is to acknowledge the input and suggest that it will be included in the meeting notes and explored at another time.

It’s up to you to find a way to deal with guiding the meeting back to the assigned topic, allowing each person the chance to participate and being conscious of one person talking more than his or her fair share. You also need to make sure that people don’t talk over each other and cover the same points.

Keeping a meeting focused takes some skill, and it may help to learn some fundamental communication skills through online classes. VirtualSpeech offers online classes where you can practice these skills in immersive virtual reality. You can use real-time voice analysis and tracking technology to identify areas that need improving.

You will get feedback on issues such as your speaking pace and eye contact. These factors could make a significant difference in how you present your ideas and keep a corporate meeting focused. You will also learn to listen more effectively.

Another important aspect to consider is whether to get attendees to turn off or silence all electronic devices. The reality is that people who bring electronic devices into the room with them could be emailing and playing games instead of focusing on the meeting or making contributions. Many people attending meetings want to make notes on their tablets or mobile phones, but this task could be allocated to one person.

6. Take notes

If you plan to send out summaries or minutes of the meeting, you should mention this at the start of the meeting. Emailing a memo documenting responsibilities given, tasks delegated and deadlines assigned keeps everyone on the same page and allows for accountability.

If you’ve come to the end of a meeting without having some actionable next steps, the meeting was most likely a waste of time. If you’ve managed to maintain a clear focus, you should have a concrete plan of action and be able to follow up on it.

Short bio:

Warren’s lifestyle is full of hiking adventures. When he’s not busy with his guitar or enjoying the sunny day outside, he excels at blogging skills and leaps through social media. You can meet him on Twitter and Facebook.

Meetings can be a challenge to organize and keep on track when you are in charge of organizing one. Here are some tips that can help!

Whether you’re a student or working professional you’ve likely been to a meeting that you felt was unproductive and didn’t accomplish much.

When you are in charge of organizing meetings, it can be a challenge to organize and keep on track. Here are some tips that can help:

Plan Ahead

Though this tip sounds simple, failure to plan is an easy way to sabotage your meeting. If you don’t plan, the meeting might not meet your goals and could undermine your productivity.

Instead of winging it, set aside time in advance to figure things out. Think about what you’re going to go over when you meet. Your ultimate goal should be ensuring that you can address the who, what, when, where and why of your meeting in advance.

If you need help ensuring you set time for planning, try scheduling some reminders on your phone or computer. The key to all this planning is to ensure that you have time to breathe and gather your thoughts. Make it easy on yourself.

Create an Outline

While planning, be sure to write a brief outline of everything you’d like to address during your meeting. You don’t have to rigidly stick to it; in fact, it’s recommended you don’t! Meetings can often take unexpected turns, so a flexible outline that keeps you on track yet provides wiggle room is an excellent idea.

To achieve this, create an outline with at least the top three items you want to have addressed by the end of your meeting.

A good way to make an outline flexible is to list general topics rather than something specific. That way, you can add anything new to them should your meeting diverge a bit. For example, your goal could be to “come up with ideas for a marketing campaign.” This shows you want to have a concrete plan, but your open to other diverging options that could occur.

Of course, if your meeting is intended to create specific numbers and goals, be sure to make your outline with specific goals in mind. Ultimately, your outline should suit your needs first and foremost.

It’s best to write these outlines on paper since this forces your brain to slow down a bit and think about what you need to discuss. Plus, you can have the list written in front of you where you can take other notes to help you remember your discussions around your goals during the gathering.

Take notes

This is perhaps one of the greatest challenges for people, as not many like to do it. Regardless, take notes and more importantly, take them by hand!

The main reason you should take notes is that information can be easily forgotten during longer meetings. The human brain tends to lose focus in longer sessions, resulting in foggy details when trying to recall information later. That’s where notes come in.

Generally, hand-written notes are better since they make you focus more on what’s going on rather than copying each word spoken when typing. In other words, typing often leads to passively listening while writing leads to active listening. A good way to think about this is you should remember concepts, not each word.

When you’re done with the meeting, you should take your notes and organize them on your computer in a digital format. Doing so will allow you to now have reminders in two formats. It will help you remember what needs to be done. You can even create an easily digestible to-do list out of them.

Choose an Effective Time

A lot of people don’t like morning meetings, and late meetings can be a problem too because everyone’s attention span has waned when they’re ready to go home. Lunchtime meetings can be problematic as well unless people are enjoying the lunch during the meeting.

Finding a balance between all of these times is key! If you choose a morning meeting, consider sometime from 10 to 11 a.m. For afternoon meetings, consider 1 to 4 p.m. These provide ideal windows to get things done without much distraction.

Of course, the structure of your company, those in attendance, and your work schedule can vary on an individual basis. Figure out what time works best for those who will attend the meeting.

Practice Time Management During the Meeting

Time management is such an important skill people rarely think about. Be sure you have some way of keeping time, whether it’s a clock in the room or your computer. Then, make sure you have enough time for each item on your outline.

If the conversation is getting out of hand, the leader should try to reach a solution, make a decision, or table the discussion for now. You can always schedule another meeting to address bigger issues that come up.

This is where your list can come in: cross it off as you watch that clock! If you have achieved everything on that list, odds are your time management skills are paying off.

Kiron Koshy

a Brighton and Sussex University Hospital, UK

Alison Liu

b Brighton and Sussex University Hospital, UK

Katharine Whitehurst

c Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, UK

Buket Gundogan

d UCL Medical School, University College London, London, UK

Yasser Al Omran

e Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, UK

Abstract

Meetings are a common occurrence in academic and medical life. However, most of these meetings will be under-productive and inefficient uses of time. In this article, we provide valuable tips on how best to plan a meeting and get the most out of the people in attendance. This includes how to assess whether a meeting is necessary and what form this meeting should take. In addition to this, guidance is divided into before, during, and after the meeting. This guide will provide structure to your meetings and improve the output you and your team gain from them.

Around the world, millions of meetings are being held every day—most of them unproductive1,2. This wastes valuable time and effort for all involved3. Within Medicine, meetings are common place: from society meetings at medical school to multidisciplinary team meetings in hospitals. To increase efficiency, one must first determine whether a meeting is necessary or appropriate for the problem4. It is useful then to consider the events before, during, and after, to make your meeting as productive and useful as possible5–7.

Is a meeting needed?

A meeting for meeting’s sake is unlikely to be productive. Before you call a meeting, think about whether there is any novel information or updates8. No new news? Consider cancelling the meeting. It is important to keep in mind that while you may have some free time in your schedule, your colleagues may have to cancel important professional or personal commitments to attend. Acknowledging the other commitments of your team will increase the efficiency of any meetings.

If there is new information, how much communication is required to find an appropriate course of action for the news? Can the update be provided in 10 to 15 minutes? If so, perhaps an email bulletin would be sufficient? Other similar problems can be solved without a meeting9,10:

Do you need a question answered? PHONE CALL

Are there difficult/sensitive issues? MEET ONE TO ONE

A meeting is perhaps only necessary when the subject matter(s) require at least an hour of your time, any less can usually be resolved with alternative means11.

Before

Determine the structure and purpose12:

What is the objective?

Who needs to attend?

Will an external speaker be required?

How much time is needed?

What preparation will help?

What is your role?

Communicate in advance13:

Develop a written agenda—assigning ownership to each item.

Send an agenda and supporting materials in advance.

Set expectations for attendance.

Set context/framing for the meeting—tell people why the meeting is being held.

Ensure appropriate rooms are booked in advance, with extra time allocated for seating rearrangement.

If special items are required (for example audio-visual facilities) make sure that this is arranged well in advance.

For communication in advance of meetings, online surveys, for example, surveymonkey.com are commonly used tools. They can allow you to gauge expectations of topics to cover in the meeting, as well as help you to organize a convenient date for the involved parties.

On the occasions that external speakers will be required for organization meetings, it is important to contact them early and make it clear to them the reason that you have involved them in this meeting, so that they may prepare appropriately.

During

Start and finish on time.

Assign a note taker and time keeper14.

Provide context for meeting—again remind people why the meeting is being held.

If people have not been properly introduced, let everyone be acquainted to encourage further productive discussion.

Manage the discussion2,15:

Asking for action from someone? Do it early, and be specific.

Off-topic ideas coming up? Bring people back to the agenda—future discussion can be held on these topics.

People talking for too long? Set time limits, move on to other topics and if there is time at the end come back to the topic.

Want attendees to stay engaged? Use active listening strategies and keep it interactive.

Want attendees to feel invested in the outcome? Acknowledge their mind-sets and interests verbally.

Stick to the agenda.

Review next steps and establish accountability16.

After

Follow-up17

Send brief notes to both meeting attendees and those absent with decisions made (or unmade) and further action items and owners.

Debrief

Review what worked and what did not, and note these for next time18.

This can be done in person, or online survey platforms and evaluation forms can also be used.

Conclusions

Most meetings can be improved. First, question if a meeting is even needed. Then follow the steps provided for before, during, and after the meeting to get the most out of your own and your colleague’s time.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no financial conflict of interest with regard to the content of this report.

Footnotes

Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.

If appropriate preparations have been made, then the scene is set for an effective meeting.В

Agendas will have been produced and circulated. Participants will arrive knowing what is to be discussed and with sufficient background information to make relevant contributions.В If appropriate, they will have consulted with people they represent and discussed any pertinent issues.

This page examines the role of the chairperson whose job it is to run the meeting.

The Role of the Chairperson

In a more formal meeting, the chairperson will outline the purpose of the meeting and remind members why they are there.В

In such a meeting there is little need to refer to this procedure as this is implicit in the established etiquette, namely:

  • The chair controls the meeting.
  • All remarks are addressed through the chair.
  • Members do not interrupt each other.
  • Members aim to reach a consensus.
  • A vote is taken if consensus is not reached.
  • The majority wins the vote.
  • All members accept the majority decision.

This is one model but alternative models may be adopted.

When discussion is underway, it is the chairperson’s responsibility to ensure that it continues to flow smoothly by involving all members present and by not permitting one or two people to dominate the meeting.В Summarising by the chairperson during meetings can:

  • Indicate progress, or lack of.
  • Refocus discussion that has wandered off the point.
  • Conclude one point and lead into the next.
  • Highlight important points.
  • Assist the secretary if necessary.
  • Clarify any misunderstanding.

The chairperson should pace the meeting, ensuring it runs to time.В If the planning has been properly executed, this should not prove to be a problem.В

At the end of a meeting, the chairperson should remind members what they have achieved and thank them for their contributions.В Finally, the time and date of the next meeting should be arranged.В Again this is one common model for effective meetings, successful outcomes can be achieved in different ways with different strategies for different purposes, so adapt as appropriate to specific situations.

The Role of the Members

While it is the role of the chairperson to run the meeting, the participation of all members is also fundamental to the success of the meeting.В

To ensure an effective meeting, all participants should:

  • Undertake any necessary preparation prior to the meeting.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Listen to the opinions of others.
  • Participate.
  • Avoid dominating the proceedings.
  • Avoid conflict situations.
  • Avoid side conversations which distract others.
  • Ask questions to clarify understanding.
  • Note down any action agreed upon. (See: Note-Taking)
  • After the meeting, undertake any agreed action and brief others as appropriate.

Why Meetings May be Ineffective

There are many reasons why meetings are not effective, some of these include:

  • The meeting is unnecessary and revolves around discussion of trivial issues, thus wasting members’ valuable time.
  • The meeting lacks a clarity of purpose, i.e., the aims and objectives are not clearly defined.
  • Inappropriate style of leadership, i.e., the chairperson dominates and closes down or disregards other contributions. See our page: Leadership Styles.
  • The chairperson exercises little control and allows one or two members to dominate the proceedings.
  • The meeting is too large thereby limiting the flow of discussion and preventing all members being able to contribute.
  • Decisions emerge that are not truly representative.
  • Problems are talked about rather than being talked through.
  • Decisions are delayed or not acted upon.
  • No clear-cut decisions are made.
  • Minutes are inaccurate or seen as being manipulated by the chairperson or secretary for his/her own purposes.
  • The wrong people are present, thus preventing the meeting proceeding effectively, e.g., those present have to refer back to another person and are therefore unable to comment effectively.

Summary

There are many types of meetings and many reasons why meetings may be ineffective.В

For meetings to be effective, participation is required from all those present.В The key skills of interpersonal communication and listening are important.

To ensure the success of a meeting, good preparation is essential and the role of the chairperson is paramount.В If these conditions are met, then all participants should leave the meeting feeling a sense of accomplishment, not as if their time has been wasted.

If there’s any one major complaint that’s consistent across most organizations today, it is the amount of time spent preparing for and participating in meetings.

Take a moment and think about all of the wide variety of meetings that you have on a daily, weekly, monthly basis within your organization; staff meetings, sales meetings, leadership meetings, informational meetings, morning meetings, meetings about future meetings, the list is virtually endless.

The 3 main complaints about meetings are number one they take up way too much time, number two they are often redundant and unnecessary, three they are usually unproductive with no real purpose or end result, and lastly they’re boring. So what do you do? Well chances are you cannot eliminate meetings altogether, so that means you either ignore the problem or you do something about it.

We hope that you decide upon the later because if you want to be an effective leader it is imperative that you learn how to conduct meetings that actually get results.

Effective meetings that get results have the four following items in common:
• They are timely.
• They are goal and results oriented.
• They are interactive.
• They require the attendance of only those who need to be there.

Effective meetings that get results are what your organization craves, these meetings are not dreaded by attendees but just the opposite they’re anticipated.

This is because when your team members know that they have an opportunity to be a part of a meeting that is organized, that respects their time, where they have an opportunity to provide their input, and where there is a genuine purpose.

Believe it or not conducting a great meeting is not rocket science, it just takes a few simple steps. Listed below are a few of the recommended guidelines for conducting effective meetings that actually get results:

• Determine whether you need to have a meeting or if the information you need to deliver can be done by another means such as email or phone.

• If you do need to have a meeting have a clear purpose for the meeting i.e., Review weekly sales results, discuss new company policy.

• Define the desired outcome that you are looking for and know what you want to achieve by having the meeting.