Conducting Effective Meetings
Meeting management tends to be overlooked by leaders and managers. Keep in mind that meetings are very expensive and frustrating. In contrast, a well run meeting can be very productive.
Participants and Planning Before the Meeting
· The decision about who is to attend depends on what you want to accomplish in the meeting.
· Don’t depend on your own judgment about who should come. Ask several other people for their opinion as well.
· Send out a meeting notice/reminder ahead of time including where it will be held, when, list of participants and whom to contact if they have questions.
· Send out a copy of the proposed agenda along with the meeting notice and a request for feedback on the agenda, e.g. suggestions for change or additions.
Developing the Agenda
Develop the agenda together with key participants in mind. Think of what overall outcome you want from the meeting and what activities need to occur to reach that outcome.
· Design the agenda so that participants get involved early by having something for them to do right away and so they come on time.
· Next to each major topic, include the type of action needed, the type of output expected decision, vote, action assigned to someone, decision whether or not a patient should be operated on, etc.
· Have an assistant bring copies of the agenda to the meeting; even if you email it out ahead of time, busy people will forget to bring a copy to the meeting.
· Always start on time; this respects those who showed up on time and reminds late-comers that the scheduling is serious.
· Welcome attendees and thank them for their time.
· Review the agenda at the beginning of each meeting, giving participants a chance to understand all proposed major topics, change them and accept them.
· Model the kind of energy and participant needed by meeting participants.
Meeting and Time Management
· Have someone to record important actions, assignments and due dates during the meeting. This information should be distributed to all participants shortly after the meeting to help remind people of the work to be done before the next meeting.
· One of the most difficult facilitation tasks is time management — time seems to run out before tasks are completed. Therefore, the biggest challenge is keeping momentum to keep the process moving. Ask the note-taker to help you keep track of the time.
· If the planned time on the agenda is getting out of hand, present it to the group and ask for their input as to a resolution.
· Try to stick to items on the agenda; if someone brings up an off-agenda topic, validate it as important, and state that it will be addressed at a subsequent meeting.
Evaluating the Meeting
· Periodically (every few meetings), leave 5-10 minutes at the end of the meeting to evaluate the meeting;
· Have each member rate the meeting citing what went well and where improvement could be made.
· Have the leader rate the meeting last.
· Always end meetings on time and attempt to end on a positive note, reviewing actions, assignments, and date/ time for the next meeting
· Clarify that meeting minutes, including assignments/actions/timelines will be reported back shortly to members (this helps to keep momentum going).