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Tips For Effective Meeting Management

SOFT SKILLS MATTER) Most people greatly dislike meetings….usually because the meetings they have attended have not been well run.   If you want people to attend, participate and accomplish what you wish as outcomes from the gathering, you must run a results-oriented, effective meeting. Here are some tips that can help you do that:

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  1. Make sure that the right people are invited to attend….those who have a stake in the outcomes, contribute beneficially, and have key information to share. For expediency, try to avoid including people who have little or nothing to contribute, observers who have no immediate or useful input, and senior people who may inhibit the participation of others.
  2. If you are planning to conduct a series of meetings, be sure to prepare a list of ground rules with the attendees, at the first meeting. Actually create a poster with this list and display it at the meetings to remind attendees what they agreed to. You can also include a copy of the ground rules with the meeting agenda. You may wish to periodically review this list and revise it as appropriate.
  3. When sharing information at the meeting, encourage the attendees to be analytical, give all the necessary details, be accurate, be organized, and give complete and relevant answers to other people’s questions. This direction on how to participate contributes to a better understanding of the issues and situations. In addition, if others are sharing information, be sure to give them a time frame and possible a report template for the delivery. This will provide consistency and reduce the time spent on such reports.
  4. Again, if you are sharing information at the meeting; encourage and the attendees to be respectful and polite with one another. Ask them to listen actively, express feelings honestly, support each other, and to listen to all sides of an issue. Respectful behaviour contributes to a better understanding of the issues and shows that we should be attacking issues not people.
  5. If you are making decisions at the meeting, encourage the attendees to think critically and make clear, practical statements, which are relevant to the issue. In addition, logical explanations, and proof for various statements will be helpful in avoiding arguments or conflict. Critical thinking is very important when making collaborative decisions during the meeting.
  6. When generating ideas during the meeting, encourage the attendees to think creatively. Invite them to present fresh new ideas, explore alternatives, be flexible, and keep an open mind. This type of discussion results in more creative solutions to problems and allows everyone to have their say. In addition, during this exchange, no matter what suggestion is raised, no matter who raises it, all contributions should be respectfully listened to and considered. In addition, encourage the attendees to make use of their intuition. Suggest to them that they wait patiently for breakthrough ideas and to trust each other’s instincts.
  7. You will increase the trust level of the attendees if you follow the agenda, complete the action items on time, encourage the free sharing of ideas, show equal respect to everyone’s suggestions, keep an open mind, provide appropriate credit and recognition for each person’s contributions, and admit mistakes and give honest feedback. As the chair of the meeting, you set the tone so you need to “walk the walk” not just “talk the talk”.
  8. You will increase the participation of the attendees if you withhold your opinion until the appropriate time to add it. When an attendee contributes an idea, encourage them with, “can you tell us a little more about that.” To increase the focus you can ask probing and clarifying questions. Finally, you can show respect by thanking them for their input.
  9. Be positive. Research done on business meetings indicates that the ratio between positive and negative comments during a meeting should be 5:1 (or greater) in order to produce high-quality results.  So try to increase the number of positive and supportive comments and decrease negative and critical ones whenever and wherever possible.  Also, encourage the other attendees to do the same.
  10. Consider these three simple questions to avoid unnecessary meetings: Is this meeting really necessary?  Can the goal of this meeting be better achieved through an alternative approach?  What would happen if the meeting was not held?  If the answer to the last question is “Nothing,” you don’t need the meeting.
  11. It is beneficial to use structured sharing approaches. Depending on the purpose of your meeting, use an appropriate step-by-step process to add discipline to the discussions. Use these techniques to provide a systematic means for the attendees to think about the issues and contribute their ideas.
  12. Use a standardized procedure for achieving the collaborative goals of the meeting. Whenever you need to make a decision, clearly describe the issue, encourage the generation of ideas, and then, together, select the best idea.
  13. The success of any meeting depends on the effective selection and use of the people in attendance and the various processes employed. Pay close attention to the recruitment and management of the people who will be attending the meeting.  Always follow a clear agenda, consistent processes, and meeting rules.
  14. You must follow the agenda, especially when you have a fairly large group. It is up to the chair to keep the meeting focused. If someone introduces an irrelevant item, make a note of it in the “parking lot” and explain that you will discuss it at a later time when it is more relevant.
  15. Prepare and circulate the agenda, if possible, before the meeting. You should include the goal and purpose for the meeting. The notice should specify the date, time, and place. If there is ample lead time and you are able to, you may wish to allow the attendees to suggest further agenda items if they are relevant to the purpose and goal of the gathering.
  16. Make sure that everyone is heard from. Call on the quiet people directly, just because they are being quiet does not necessarily mean they have nothing to contribute. If you have a large number of attendees, you might consider dividing them into smaller groups for discussion purposes and then have each small group report back to the cohort.
  17. In this day and age, you may want to learn how to conduct virtual meetings. The principles of conducting effective face-to-face meetings also apply to virtual meetings. However you will need to become familiar with the technical aspects of using the Internet, online software programs, video conferencing, and conference telephone calls. In some cases, when the issues are relevant to various locations of an organization, this may be the most expedient and time saving way to conduct the discussions.
  18. Always maintain an open mind. You want to focus on inquiry (the finding of facts) rather than on advocacy (the persuading of others to accept your ideas).  It is a good idea to ask more questions and make fewer pronouncements.
  19. To increase the efficiency of meetings, try to reduce the time spent on discussions as well as the time allowed between making those decisions and implementing them. Try to increase the quality and quantity of decisions made at the meeting. Finally, try to increase the participation and satisfaction of the people attending the meeting.
  20. If you run results-oriented meetings you will have less trouble getting people to attend and stay to the end….in order to accomplish this outcome, you must prepare well ahead of time. It is a good idea to time out each item on the agenda, if it is contentious you may want to deal with it on its own.       You must always have a clear goal, a manageable agenda, an appropriate time, and place for your meetings. [/message][su_spacer]

If you follow these 20 tips you are more likely to be able to run effective meetings that result in the accomplishment of the goals and purposes you set out for that gathering.

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Sandy Chernoff
Sandy Chernoffhttp://softskillsforsuccess.com/
SANDY'S 30 years of didactic and clinical teaching in study clubs and continuing dental education, coupled with her almost 40 years of Dental Hygiene practice bring a wealth of experience to her interactive soft skills workshops. With her education background she easily customizes interactive sessions to suit the specific needs of her clients. Her energetic and humorous presentation style has entertained and informed audiences from Victoria to New York City. Sandy’s client list includes law firms, teaching institutions, volunteer and professional organizations and conferences, businesses, and individuals. Her newest project is turning her live workshops into e-learning programs using an LMS platform. Her teaching and education background have helped her to produce meaningful and somewhat interactive courses for the learners wanting the convenience of e-learning options. As the author of 5 Secrets to Effective Communication, Sandy has demonstrated her ability to demystify the complexities of communication so that the reader can learn better strategies and approaches which will greatly improve their communication skills and ultimately reduce conflict, resentment, disappointment, complaining, and confusion. As a result, the reader will be able to increase productivity, efficiency and creativity, improve all the relationships in their lives and ultimately enjoy a happier, healthier existence! Sandy blogs regularly on her two websites on the various soft skills topics that are featured in her workshops and e-learning programs.

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2 CONVERSATIONS

  1. Great points here. I think I’m repeating point 6 and 20, but I find the best meetings are those that produce something that is visual. Produce as in not a list, but a picture, a plan, or a vision. It seems people get more satisfaction out of those meetings.

    • Absolutely, Chris. Most people really hate meetings because they are so poorly run that they feel they are just a waste of time. When the results of the gathering are concrete and obvious, no one will be upset by the time they spent at the meeting. It is not that hard to set up a proper agenda and keep to it with the consensus of the attendees. When that happens and specific tasks are assigned with timelines, it is more likely that the objectives will be met.
      Thanks for your input!

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