5 Steps to Effective Meetings

Posted on July 2, 2010

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Moral Leadership, photo from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Meetings can be a joy or a pain. Meetings can make time or take time. Meetings can be an asset or liability. Meetings can add value or take value. Meetings can be exciting or boring. The sheer importance of running effective meetings cannot be further emphasised. Here are five easy and practical ways that as leaders and managers, we may employ to chair meetings efficiently and excitingly.

1. Be Outcome Oriented

Is what you are discussing relevant to the larger picture? Are you still on track? As the chairperson of the meeting or even a representative at a meeting, asking ourselves these questions would ensure that we stay on track at all times. Without constantly checking ourselves, it is extremely easy to digress and radically go off track. The product of this would be talking about issues that are hardly related to the intended topic of discussion. This would constitute a waste of time, and would result in unnecessarily inefficient meetings.

2. Always have an Action Plan

Have you ever gone for hours long of meetings, discuss numerous issues at length, then leave the meeting wondering what exactly happened for the last couple of hours? And perhaps in the following meeting, you find the topics discusses to be exactly the same, almost like a déjà vu feeling, that things have not moved a single bit.

All this happen due to a lack of Action Plan. Many issues have been raised, many solutions have been formulated, yet NO ONE has been tasked to see to the completion of the tasks! Naturally, since it’s nobody’s problem, nobody would do it, and everybody would come back and go through the entire routine over and over again.

This would easily be solved by having an action plan, one that dictates who is to do what, and by when! This ensures accountability so that things get done, and meetings can move forward!

3. Be Concise

The failure to be concise is probably the single largest culprit behind boring meetings. All too often, we find meetings a session where the chairperson rambles on and on, just like a dysfunctional radio that doesn’t know when to stop! This habit is also extremely hypnotic, and is responsible for sending half the members instantly to slumberland!

This can easily be overcome by focusing on saying JUST WHAT’S NEEDED! Rather than repeating the same point a hundred times in a hundred different ways, focus on conveying the message once, as accurately as you can!

4. Watch the Time

Some managers and leaders are under the impression that the longer the meeting, the better because more material has been discussed. I believe we all can tell immediately that this is a fallacy. Why say what you need to say in five hours, when you can do it in one? Rather than spending four hours repeating, we could spend four hours doing productive work!

It is crucial to manage our time well. This starts with punctuality. Meetings should always start punctually, as any time wasted waiting is magnified by the number of participants. It is important, too, to have a projected end time. This gives a target for the chairperson to strive towards, and indicates to the members what to expect, allowing them to contribute effectively. Timings should also account for the member’s attention span. Depending on the nature of the meeting and the participants involved, meetings should range from half an hour to 3 hours. Any thing longer should be so due to a good reason, as human attention would deteriorate as time increases, and the productivity of the meeting would fall.

5. Do your due Diligence in Preparation

Many meetings go no where simply because no prior preparation was done. In some cases, the chairperson would just come into the meeting room without a clue of what he’s going to discuss, then decide on the spot. Needless to say, such meetings would definitely end up being about cars and pets and food!

Just simply by doing our due diligence as leaders or managers, preparing what is necessary in terms of ideas and material and even presentation aids, we may make meetings work wonder for us!

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