Running Great Meetings

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Top Tips For Running Great Meetings

Meetings, increasingly, take up much of our valuable time.  It is important that they are useful for all people involved and not seen as a waste of time or unproductive.

1. Circulate your agenda and meeting materials ahead of time – give attendees the opportunity to come prepared with their thoughts if they would like to.  This is also about you letting go of power.  Don’t keep people in the dark – it affects trust and credibility. Show transparency. 

2. Start on time – time is precious, so value it.  Show respect to those that have arrived and set a clear expectation.  This will soon turn into the expected culture.  Have offline conversations with those who are late and offer well-formed feedback where appropriate, stating the behaviour and it’s impact/effect. State what you need and expect next time.  If you don’t, another culture will prevail. Things happen and people are late – this is the real world.  But make sure they know the meeting will start without them.  That they will have to ‘run for the bus to catch it up’.

How to be a better manager

3. Finish on time – otherwise you are the cause of late-starting meetings for others. You become part of the problem around here. If you don’t need others to stay but would like them to, give them permission to leave or to stay.

4. Outcomes, outcomes, outcomes – tell attendees what they will get (outcomes) from the meeting and what you expect to be produced (outputs).

5. Explain the agenda – similar to number 4 above, take time to paint a picture of the meeting ahead and all its agenda items; especially for longer meetings. The brain doesn’t like ambiguity or not knowing what is coming up – its a survival mechanism. So to make sure the brains in the room aren’t in survival mode, and viewing you as a threat, give them some predictability and certainty.

6. Create a ‘car park’ on a flip chart for any questions, issues or important actions that arise and need to be addressed but aren’t on the agenda.  Acknowledge them, record them and move on. If that ‘time stealer’ or ‘meeting saboteur’ keeps bringing it up, assertively state that it has been noted, it is important and it is not on the agenda for today’s meeting

How to be a better manager

7. Explain roles – your role as the meeting organiser/facilitator/chair etc and explain the role of the attendees e.g. active participant, passive, problem solving/idea generation – make it clear.  In order to do this you also need to be clear!

8. Spend a few moments establishing rules – either telling, but even better, inviting the group to set the ground rules for the meeting.  Creation means ownership and then it makes it easier to challenge rule breakers and gain peer support.

9. Consider ditching the PowerPoint.  Consider what you would and could do if it didn’t exist.  The chances are it will be much more engaging, promote active participation and produce higher quality outputs.  Don’t give the attendees of your meetings an excuse to switch off.  But, equally, don’t expect them to be actively engaged by staring at the wall!

How to be a better manager

10. Keep an action tracker – record all actions, promises and requests, who they were made by and to and when the promise/request will be fulfilled by.  Distribute, update and report back as necessary.

11. End of meeting read back – summarise meeting outputs and actions to be taken at the end of the meeting. Attendees need to see and hear evidence of time well spent, congruent with the purpose/agenda of the meeting. It is also an opportunity to check that actions and requests were captured and nothing was missed.

We run workshops and training courses in facilitative training, facilitation skills,  and running interactive meetings without PowerPoint.  Contact Us if you would like to know more.