“Basically, there are three types of Chair: (1) the authoritarian, who conducts meetings like military drills and wonders why nothing very original is ever said or achieved in them; (2) the permissive, who lets the members run the meetings, and wonders why so many of them end in chaos; and (3) the majority, who are a little of both and who wonder why other people’s meetings seem more effective than their own. This is because being an effective Chair does not come naturally. It requires certain skills, but the good news is that these skills can be learnt and they can be improved with practice.”
Jack Gratus, Give and Take, BBC Books, London, 1990, p. 20.
In our last blog post we discussed the importance of being able to run effective meetings that no longer waste time or bore your employees to sleep. Here are a few more handy hints, tips and anecdotes to inspire you in the future. Remember that Global Training Institute offer a Meeting Management short course that can be completed online for only $37.
Meeting Management Tip 1
Those first fifteen minutes are important. Studies have shown that meeting participants are more alert and creative during the first part of a meeting. As the meeting goes on, they become less and less attentive. So any problem that needs a creative solution, any information you really want employees to remember, and any important points that you want to drive home should be covered within the first fifteen minutes.
Meeting Management Tip 2
Do your meetings, which you call for, say, 2.00, usually start at ‘2.00-ish’ – somewhere around 5 to 15 minutes late? And do they start later and later each time because everyone knows that everyone else is going to be late? You can attempt to solve this annoying problem by using the ‘odd starting time’ strategy.
For example, instead of scheduling a 2.00 start, specify 1.57 or 2.04. And when you’re asked – as surely you will be – why you’re being so specific, you reply: ‘Because I mean it. That’s precisely the time when the meeting must begin.’ That’s the key to the strategy’s success. But you must start on time – at 1.57 precisely – even if all your staff aren’t present.
Set the standard with your first odd-time meeting, and the credibility of the strategy will quickly establish itself.
Meeting Management Tip 3
If you want to run a smoother and more effective meeting, and help your staff to get involved as well, try this:
Firstly, it’s essential that your staff members be prepared for meetings. Send them an agenda and any supporting documentation at least a day or two before the meeting is to take place. Then indicate when each person will be expected to contribute. For example: ‘3.35 p.m. to 3.45 p.m. Spare Parts report. John R. to summarise and answer questions on restocking strategy.’
Meeting Management Tip 4
The key to running an effective meeting is to keep it on time and on track. Consider these strategies:
- Provide an agenda that spells out starting and finishing times, the subjects to be discussed, the objectives to be met for each topic, and the amount of time allocated to each topic. Without these predetermined signposts, the meeting will meander through the time set aside for it.
- Don’t make the meeting place too comfortable.
- Remember, if time is important, a clock, visible to everyone, is the most important piece of furniture in the room – and often, there’s not one there!
- Participants should be encouraged to keep the meeting on time by resisting the temptation to interrupt or to digress too far from the topic being discussed.
- If you want participants to be quick and to the point, ask them to stand when it’s their turn to speak. (Ouch!) Or hold a stand-up meeting. It’s amazing how quickly people get to the point when they aren’t sitting down.
- At all times, the key person is the chairperson. It’s his or her responsibility to keep the meeting on time and on track.
Meeting Management Skills
The management literature claims that meetings are a powerful medium for the pooling of individual talent and for the creation of a product greater than the sum of its parts. That’s the theory. Unfortunately, experience seldom supports this theory.
How effective are your staff meetings? To find out, ask these ten questions about your last meeting:
- Were the participants free to voice their opinions and vote according to their consciences?
- Were ideas thoroughly sought, questioned and examined before being either rejected or accepted?
- Was good use made of meeting time?
- Were participants able to leave the meeting with clear direction on how to proceed regarding decisions made at the meeting?
- Were differences of opinion resolved productively?
- Did a climate of trust pervade the meeting?
- Did everyone speak up on every important issue discussed?
- Did participants listen to each other and build on each other’s ideas during discussions?
- Did confidential discussions remain confidential following the meeting?
10. Did everyone agree with the way the meeting was run? Remember that a meeting is nothing more than a management tool and, like any tool, it must be used for the correct purpose and in the proper way if it is to achieve the intended result.
Peters on Meeting Management Skills
According to Tom Peters, in ‘In Search of Excellence’, most meetings are an utter waste of time. Participants dance around each other and the issues. Little or no honest argument or engagement occurs.
‘Why not strive to apply the essence of success in the school classroom to meetings – drawing others out, getting them to share their knowledge, their hitherto hidden assumptions, to commit to one idea or another?’ asks Peters. Unfortunately, he observes, such commitment rarely occurs in adult group settings, even though most managers spend much of their working days in such settings.
Meeting Management Skills
It’s been estimated that a third of the time spent in meetings is wasted. If you count the salaries of those involved, meetings can be very expensive and should be planned better to utilise the talent present. To overcome this wastage problem, try ‘dinging’. Any employee attending a meeting is allowed to ‘ding’ it when the meeting is getting off track, wasting time, or losing its focus.
The model meeting
The model meeting is:
- Participated in by everybody
- Monopolised by nobody
- Where everybody is somebody.
If you are interested in equipping yourself with skills such as these, we encourage you to consider studying online! At Global Training Institute we offer a wide variety of online qualifications and online short courses (Meeting Management) for people in many different industries and positions. Some of these include the Certificate IV in Frontline Management, Diploma of Management, Diploma of Customer Engagement, Diploma of Project Management, Certificate IV in Civil Construction Supervision, Diploma of Civil Construction Management, Diploma of Business and more! All qualifications are in line with the standards set by the Australian Qualifications Framework and will provide you with essential skills and knowledge to become more effective in your current position, as well as preparing for promotion!
Contact us on 1800 998 500 or [email protected]!