In a good meeting there is momentum that comes from the
spontaneous exchange of fresh ideas and produces extraordinary results. Harold
9. Before you call a meeting, decide if you should have one at all10
Groups are not good for organising large amounts of data, for
synthesising lots of ideas, or for writing reports.
Individuals organise and write reports more efficiently than
Groups are good for brainstorming, exchanging opinions and
information, identifying problems, discussing issues, and making final
FIRST, decide whether or not a meeting is appropriate. The worst
reason to have one is because it is scheduled.
A meeting is appropriate when:
- You want an issue clarified
- You have concerns you want to share with your group
as a whole
- You want
information from your group
You want to involve your group in solving a problem or making a
- Your group wants a
A meeting is not appropriate when:
- The subject is trivial
- You can communicate better by
- You have to deal
with personnel issues, such as hiring, firing, and negotiating salaries
- The subject matter is so confidential
that it can't be shared with some members of the group
- There is inadequate data or poor
- You have already
made the decisions on the proposed topic of the
10. If you must have a meeting, plan how to get the most out of it11
Meetings are commonly held to introduce new ideas and activities,
to review the progress of existing ones, to discuss alternatives for solving a
problem, to make decisions, or to do any number of things. But, people the world
over complain about meetings, judging them a waste of time and effort. If you
know how to run a meeting effectively, that is, if you can conduct it in a way
that makes efficient use of time and achieves the purpose for which it was
planned, your meetings need never be a complete waste of time.
The following steps can help you to run a more effective
the purpose: Provide people with a clear understanding of what you want from the
meeting and why you want this particular group of people involved.
Prepare an agenda: Prepare an agenda of the topics to be covered, the
names of speakers, the amount of time to be spent on each topic, and any
procedures, e.g., brainstorming, group exercises, that will be used.
Clarify roles: Clarifying roles of the participants can be useful if
people are meeting together for the first time or if the group is large and
needs to be structured. The team leader: usually but not always the supervisor,
calls the meeting, sets the agenda, and initiates discussion. A facilitator
keeps the meeting on track, moderates any conflicts, and monitors time. A
recorder or scribe keeps a written record of what happened in the meeting.
Additional roles such as advisors or observers could be assigned if
ground rules: Make explicit the rules on how the meeting will be conducted. Some
examples include: to respect one another and not interrupt while someone is
speaking, to make decision by consensus,
11. Guide your team in having more effective discussions12
Effective discussions lead to effective meetings. Knowing how to
guide a discussion and get the most out of participants is equally important to
planning and structuring a meeting.
The following techniques can help you to facilitate discussions
and thus improve the effectiveness of your meetings:
- Ask for clarification when necessary.
If a point or a term is not understood, try to rephrase or illustrate it so that
it becomes clear.
as a facilitator to regulate more aggressive members, encourage the
participation of quieter ones, avoid unnecessary conflicts. Let everyone feel
that their opinions are valued.
Listen to all ideas. Don't interpret or draw conclusions about what is
being said until it's been said.
to avoid lengthy, irrelevant discussions.
for consensus by asking the group if there is agreement with a decision or
point. Do not assume consensus has been reached.
the meeting when no additional discussion is necessary.
to see whether your objectives were
12. Start on time; End on time13
One of the keys to running an effective meeting is to stay on
time. But often the main problem is that staff simply don't arrive on time.
Meetings that fail to start on time probably, to the exasperation of most staff,
do not end on time.
So, to get your people there on time, try these
meetings to begin at odd times. For example, if you start a meeting at a quarter
past the hour, it may get more attention.
on time regardless of who is missing.
the door when a meeting begins.
Discuss, first, those items of particular interest to latecomers.
to other group member to apply pressure to chronic latecomers.
13. How to chair a meeting14
If a meeting isn't run well, it's usually the fault of the chair.
If you chair a meeting, you have several jobs:
- Start the meeting. Don't wait for
someone else to start it.
(or summarise) the purpose, agenda and schedule. Check to make sure everyone
agrees, make amendments as appropriate.
Gently, but firmly, guide the discussion. Be fair and objective.
Eliminate digressions and gently cut short dialogues that exclude the
majority of the participants.
Recognise people who want to speak and take them in turn; don't tolerate
people speaking out of turn.
the clock, and make sure that everyone is aware of the timeremind them every
conclusions at the end of each agenda item and watch to make sure that people
agree with your conclusions. Amend them if they do not.
Resolve conflict; if a serious dispute arises, table the point and work
it out after the meeting.
the meeting; thank the participants; announce the follow-up
14. Don't sit on the results of a good meeting; follow up with a plan of action15
Great enthusiasm and creativity can come out of a good meeting.
But often ideas and promised actions are neglected or delayed soon after the
meeting has ended. Some ways to capitalise on the momentum generated by a
productive meeting include:
- End meetings with a summary of agreed-upon
- Establish a norm to
"do it the next day."
out reminders to people a few days later.
- When action is not forthcoming, call people to ask if you
can help in some way.
your next meeting, provide a status report of agreed-upon actions from the
15. Maximise what you can get out of a ''brainstorming'' session16
Some meetings are held for the purposes of generating fresh ideas
to address an issue or identifying new ways to resolve a problem. These
brainstorming sessions can be productive and meaningful if they are conducted in
a way that maximises the interaction of people and the exchange of ideas. Some
tips for managing this type of meeting:
- Limit group size to a controllable number.
seating that allows for more face-to-face interaction. Round tables are better
than long ones.
Encourage everyone to think of ways to draw from or "hitchhike" on
just look for a right answer. By generating as many ideas as possible, a right
one may emerge.
people to blurt out their ideas.
Record the ideas on a flip chart.
sure people plan to stay as long as necessary or until they run out of