Communication Skills Running Effective Meetings
Meetings are wonderful tools for generating ideas, expanding on thoughts, and managing group activity. But this face-to-face contact with team members and colleagues can easily fail without adequate preparation and leadership.
The Importance of Preparation
To ensure everyone involved has the opportunity to provide their input, start your meeting off right by designating a meeting time that allows all participants the time needed to adequately prepare. If any participants must travel to attend, you must allow adequate time for travel arrangements.
Once a meeting time and place has been chosen, make yourself available for questions that may arise as participants prepare for the meeting. If you are the meeting leader, make a meeting agenda complete with detailed notes. In these notes, outline the goal and proposed structure of the meeting, and share this with the participants. This will allow all involved to prepare and to come to the meeting ready to work together to meet the goals at hand.
The success of the meeting depends largely on the skills displayed by the meeting leader. To ensure the meeting is successful, the leader should:
- Issue an agenda
- Start the discussion and encourage active participation
- Work to keep the meeting at a comfortable pace—not moving too fast or too slow
- Summarize the discussion and the recommendations at the end of each logical section
- Ensure all participants receive minutes promptly
- While these tips will help ensure your meeting is productive and well-received, there are other important areas that need attention to make sure your meeting and negotiation skills are fine-tuned.
Managing a Meeting
Choosing the right participants is key to the success of any meeting. Make sure all participants can contribute and choose good decision-makers. Try to keep the number of participants to a maximum of 12, preferably fewer.
If you are the leader, work diligently to ensure everyone’s thoughts and ideas are heard by guiding the meeting so that there is a free flow of debate with no individual dominating and no extensive discussions between two people.
Meetings are notorious for eating up people’s time. Here are some ways of ensuring that time is not wasted in meetings:
- Start on time.
- Don’t recap what you’ve covered if someone comes in late: it sends the message that it is OK to be late for meetings, and it wastes everyone else’s valuable time.
- State a finish time for the meeting and don’t over-run.
- To help stick to the stated finish time, arrange your agenda in order of importance so that if you have to omit or rush items at the end to make the finish time, you don’t omit or skimp on important items.
- Finish the meeting before the stated finish time if you have achieved everything you need to.
Minutes record the decisions of the meeting, the actions agreed on, and who is to carry out actions. They provide a record of the meeting and, importantly, they provide a review document for use at the next meeting so that progress can be measured—this makes them a useful disciplining technique as individuals’ performance and non-performance of agreed actions is given high visibility.
Evaluate the first half of the year by reviewing what’s working to touch the lives of women: List your events, projects, activities, and ask your leaders to help answer these following questions:
- What results were we expecting from what we hav planned? Did we get them?
- Were we prepared with materials, resources, information, and people for this project/activity/leadership training?
- How many women were benefited by it?
- What would we change next time?