Generally speaking, are your meetings generally a waste of time? Do team members go off on tangents? Are people spectators rather than participants? Are there meetings after the meetings? Not good.
Here are some effective meeting tips to keep in mind:
- Prepare a meeting agenda, time, topics, activities, and activity leaders. Distribute at least 24-48 hours in advance to give everyone a chance to review and evaluate. Communicate with key participants in advance to make sure they have read the agenda and will be fully prepared. Find out who agrees and disagrees, so you are adequately prepared to gather supporting materials to make your case or pre-empt arguments.
- Establish specific time parameters for each agenda item to give attendees an overview and a sense of value for each item.
- Maintain focused discussion when topics not on the agenda come up. List them on a flipchart or erasable board, often called the parking lot, so they can be discussed at the end of the meeting or added to the next meeting agenda.
- Encourage participation by all members to enhance commitment for the decisions made. Besides, a wide variety of perspectives can lead to truly unique outcomes.
- Rotate a critical thinking role every meeting to encourage a clash of ideas and may prevent a clash of personalities. When people know it is a valuable role being played, they probably won’t let the criticism bother them quite as much.
- Demonstrate effective listening skills by asking questions and taking notes.
- Finally, be sure to seek clarification at the end of the meeting, concerning decisions made and actions delegated.
Follow these suggestions and you can enjoy effective meetings and results. Results: that’s why we have meetings. It takes time to turn a ship around and it can take time to turn our meetings around. Consistent effort and continuous improvement is the key.