How to run effective meetings

Part 2: Holding the meeting

Last week, I provided you with tips for preparing for effective meetings. Today, I want to focus on the actual meeting, what to consider when running it and how to avoid it become a waste of your and the other participants’ time. This mini-series will finish off with the follow up of the meeting results and actions.

How can you get the most out of your meeting? Let’s look at this tips for running the meeting:

Request to start on time and to finish on time. Despite living in a region where time seems to be irrelevant at times, don’t let this influence your meeting culture. When allocating time for each agenda item, stick to it. I’ve seen teams charge late comers monies and companies operate with kitchen timers to ensure they’re not running over. It both worked!

Outline the objective of the meeting at the beginning. As we’re all pressed for time, the facilitator can mention that “we only have 30 minutes and will need to stay attentive to get through the agenda”. This signals drive and focus.

Set some ground rules for the meeting. We all have been in meetings where at least one person was constantly on their phone or laptop. Ask participants to put their phones on silent and even better, have their phone turned upside down for them to not look at new incoming messages. Request for laptops not to be used either.

Being in the same room, it will be easier to remind individuals about their active participation in this meeting. When meeting virtually, ask attendees to mute their phones if not speaking. Using functionalities like Skype for Business allows you to also have a video conference where you can see if participants are doing something else. You can remind them then to stay focused, please.

Determine who will take notes. You may have the same person taking notes during every meeting or follow a rotational basis. It will be more effective if the facilitator will not also be the note taker. This way, they can purely focus on the moderation of the meeting.

Minutes of the meeting will summarise the main points and won’t record word-for-word what was spoken. If you’re going to meet with a client, check out this previous post on how to minutes during such meetings.

Start on a positive note and encourage some collaborative goals, as Caroline Webb suggests. “Where do we want to be by the end of this meeting?”

Park any topics that don’t fit this meeting’s agenda, yet, need to be addressed.

Use the last 5-10 minutes of the meeting to obtain approval for the decisions. There’s nothing worse than a silent disapprover. Give participants a chance to voice their views rather than proceeding thinking everyone is on board.

Use the last part also to define the next action items. These may need to be completed prior to the next meeting or at a different time. Be precise about what is due when and also define how it will be communicated to the group. Can you email out the results rather than having to meet again?

Assign actions to specific employees. At Apple, they define “Directly Responsible Individuals” (DRI) who are then accountable for these agenda items. Let the action owner ask questions to ensure they are 100% clear about their job. It solves the constant issue of whose job is it anyway and reduces any confusion.

Congrats! You’re now equipped with how best to prepare for a meeting and how to get the most out of the actual meeting. Which tip has made the biggest difference in your meetings this week? I’d love to hear what you found most useful. Please leave a comment below.

Join me for the finale of this mini-series next week.

Until next time,

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