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Mastering Meetings

Meetings are a necessary tool in business to facilitate communication. They can be good, they can also be bad, and they can be downright ugly. Good meetings have a clear agenda, enable effective communication between relevant people and result in clear actions that are followed up. Bad meetings are poorly managed, go off piste, waste time, confuse and de-motivate. Ugly meetings are the ones that dissolve into finger pointing, recriminations, and arguments.

‘Meetings … the practical alternative to work!’

Rather than enabling positive outcomes, poorly managed meetings waste valuable time and go little towards achieving objectives. If your meetings feature any of these common features, it’s time to master the art of effective meeting management:

  • A run through of last action points reveals nothing has moved forwards
  • A regular meeting that has been in the diary every Monday for the last year rarely actually happens
  • There is no agenda and the meeting gets sidetracked
  • The meeting starts late or runs over
  • Time is spent passing blame for things not done or things done badly
  • There are no clear actions or decisions as a result of the meeting

‘We have meetings about meetings’

As with most things in life, the key to a successful meeting is planning. If you are well prepared the meeting is more likely to result in positive outcomes. Here are our top tips for managing a successful meeting:

  • If there’s no real point to the meeting, don’t have it! Obvious maybe, but how many times to you hear people bemoan the pointlessness of a meeting, or joke about having a meeting about the meeting? Is a meeting necessary, or will a phone call do? Define the meeting’s purpose.
  • Invite the right people. Invite the people who have a genuine stake in the topic to be discussed. This may mean inviting people who’s opinion you don’t necessarily share or who like to challenge but this helps a balanced discussion as the right parties are represented. If they don’t need to be there, don’t invite them.
  • Write, distribute and stick to an agenda. Send people the agenda when you invite them so they know the purpose of the meeting. This gives everyone time to research, compose their ideas and views and prepare their input, ensuring a valuable contribution. Follow the agenda and stick to it. If decisions need to be made, make them!
  • Give fair warning. Don’t spring meetings on people. If you expect others to present information, tell them in advance. If a decision needs to be made, tell people so they cn consider their stance.
  • Take minutes. Record key points raised, record decision made and record actions that have been assigned. If actions are required, make sure they are assigned to the right person and a deadline is agreed. This then provides a working document against which to track progress to ensure goals are met.
  • Follow up after the meeting. Distribute the minutes to relevant parties, follow up on actions and keep communication open.

‘Board meetings … they’re called that for a reason’

Regular meetings, such as weekly team updates, or monthly board meetings, can become routine and monotonous which results in attendees going through the actions with very little real value.
For such meetings to be of value, all participants must be engaged and leave energised. In addition to the tips above, here are some tips for keeping regular meetings fresh and productive:

  • Nominate a different chairperson from the regular attendees each meeting
  • Have an open 10 min slot in each meeting to focus on one team or department or project in more detail
  • Invite external speakers in for a guest slot, to engage with other parts of the organisation
  • Create an Action Leader Board to reward those who are most successful in following up on their actions

Meetings should be productive, whether their purpose is to develop strategy, resolve issues, progress projects or motivate a team. If well planned, all participants can leave a meeting feeling it was of value.
If you would like more information about improving the effectiveness of your meetings, or would like one of our consultants to contact you, call 07866 760401

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All our workshops are fun, interactive and full of activities, self assessment questionnaires, individual and group work to maximise your learning experience. Everyone takes away an action plan to implement in the workplace. Our highly experienced and friendly trainers tailor the day to the group training objectives and needs of the organisation.

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