Regardless of emails, phone calls, memos, etc, meetings are still one of the most effective ways that people share and exchange information, get feedback, plan, collaborate, and make important decisions for their company. While technology is an incredible blessing, it has also created the art of isolation. Flexible work hours and locations create alone time at our computers and hinder face-to-face meetings. The more stressed we are and the more pressure we feel, the more we tend to avoid meetings, but in reality bringing a team together can have many benefits. Meetings, when conducted effectively can:
• Alleviate stress and restore energy and harmony to the entire team.
• Remind individual players that their issues/deadlines are one part of a whole package, not the entire company focus.
• Provide opportunity for mutual support and collaboration.
• Bring together different layers of personnel.
• Align priorities and company goals.
• Provide necessary access to information.
Although many of us complain about them, we spend a significant amount of our working time in meetings. Rather than feeling frustrated that meetings are taking away from work, look at them as adding value to your work. Learn to convene meaningful and productive meetings. When you are the designated leader, consider the following tips.
Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself these questions:
• Is the meeting necessary? Is there sufficient potential for results or more likely to be a waste of time?
• What is the exact purpose? The most effective meetings have a purpose and complete the task in the allotted time. Is your purpose to connect with the team and establish our direction, gather ideas and share information, and/or make decisions?
• Who needs to attend? The meeting should include, and only include, everyone who has a stake.
Now that you understand your purpose and recognize the necessity of a meeting:
• Establish the agenda.
• Confirm that you have essential equipment/supplies available. For example, if you are using a white board, make sure the markers are working.
Is your power point is prepared and running smoothly?
Has the agenda and appropriate handouts been printed?
• Choose a location that has sufficient space, yet remains conducive to pulling people together.
Is it centrally convenient to all attendees?
Are coffee and water conveniently available?
• Assign someone to arrive prepared to take notes. Obviously, this should be someone who is well versed in the meeting’s objectives. They must be able to clearly understand the context and prioritize the main points. Keeping clear concise and accurate notes is crucial when someone questions what was said, assigned, or concluded.
• Send email reminders to everyone who should be attending. Include a copy of the agenda. This allows them time to prepare.
During the meeting:
• Open the meeting with a warm welcome and smile. Affirm your authority as leader.
• Share the agenda and ensure that everyone understands the definition of key words, terms, phrases, etc.
• Keep the meeting on point, the conversation relevant, put a brake on dominators, and encourage the quiet soul to speak up.
• Tactfully deal with latecomers and those who ignite strife.
• Monitor debate. This is often a necessary part of a meeting – especially when making decisions. Healthy debate gives evidence that people are actively involved and care about the outcome. It is important, however to establish ground rules. For example:
o The chair will recognize all speakers.
o Each member may only speak on the issue and specified number of times.
o Each comment is limited to a specified number of minutes.
o These limits will vary according to the depth of the topic and the time allotted for the meeting.
• Summarize and close meeting. Before closing the meeting, summarize decisions made, actions taken, responsibilities assigned for the future, and appointed accountability. Take a few minutes to gather feedback. Briefly discuss the value of the meeting and what action, if any, could be taken to improve future meetings.
After the meeting:
• Take time to review the meeting. Were you satisfied with the way it was conducted, the results?
• Take care of issues requiring privacy discussion. For example, if someone is consistently late.
• Email a copy to everyone present ASAP – this allows attendees to review, confirm accuracy, and/or point out needed changes while the meeting is still fresh in their minds. When notes are finalized, file a copy and email a copy to those who could not attend the meeting.
• Confirm that delegated responsibilities are completed on time.
Are you a company looking for qualified candidates who can do their job effectively, including leading meetings or a candidate who is an effective leader seeking a position? Contact Springborn Staffing. We match companies and candidates in the Bangor and Portland, Maine areas.