Best Practices for Effective Meetings-Part I

When members of an organization gather at a meeting, their purpose is to conduct business—to collect information and discuss issues and to make decisions on how these issues will be resolved or addressed. The methods businesses choose to carry out these functions will frequently depend on the type and size of the meeting.

The process used in a meeting depends on the kind of meeting you plan to have, e.g., staff meeting, planning meeting, problem solving meeting, etc. However, there are certain basics that are common to various types of meetings. These basics are described below.

Keeping in mind that meetings are very expensive activities when one considers the cost of labor for the meeting and how much can or cannot get done in them, it is essential that meetings are conducted effectively and efficiently.

  People who do enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything-Thomas Sowell

1. Selecting Participants

  • The decision about who is to attend depends on what you want to accomplish in the meeting. This may seem too obvious to state, but it’s surprising how many meetings occur without the right people there.
  • Don’t depend on your own judgment about who should come. Ask several other people for their opinion as well.
  • If possible, call each person to tell them about the meeting, it’s overall purpose and why their attendance is important.
  • Follow-up your call with a meeting notice, including the purpose of the meeting, where it will be held and when, the list of participants and whom to contact if they have questions.
  • Send out a copy of the proposed agenda along with the meeting notice.
  • Have someone designated to record important actions, assignments and due dates during the meeting. This person should ensure that this information is distributed to all participants shortly after the meeting.

2. Developing Agendas

  • Develop the agenda together with key participants in the meeting. Think of what overall outcome you want from the meeting and what activities need to occur to reach that outcome.
  • The agenda should be organized so that these activities are conducted during the meeting.
  • In the agenda, state the overall outcome that you want from the meeting
  • Design the agenda so that participants get involved early by having something for them to do right away and so they come on time.
  • Next to each major topic, include the type of action needed, the type of output expected (decision, vote, action assigned to someone), and time estimates for addressing each topic
  • Ask participants if they’ll commit to the agenda.
  • Keep the agenda posted at all times.

Meetings are indinspensable when you don’t want to do anything-John Kenneth

3.   The Chairperson

  • The meeting chairperson should be carefully chosen.
  • The chairperson is responsible for providing leadership to the meeting, should be familiar with parliamentary procedure and set an example by consistently conforming to it.
  • As the leader of the meeting, he/she must understand the bylaws and policies of the business, the goals and purpose of the meeting, and he/she must know the participants and motivate them to contribute.
  • The chairperson also has the power to maintain control of the meeting, should any questions about procedure arise or conflict occur.
  • The chairperson plays the following important roles

                   Knows Those Attending the Meeting and Helps Them Participate: Determines the skills and abilities of participants, involves and motivates them in the activities that have been designated to them, checks on their progress and provides guidance and assistance.

                  Plans Ahead: Assesses the items of business that need to be addressed by the meeting, decides on the options available and then chooses the best option that will complete the task.

                Prepares for Meetings: Plans the agenda with the assistance of the secretary and other officers as required and checks on all meeting arrangements.

               Presides at Meetings:Presents the rules of order for approval by the meeting, follows the agenda, involves participants in the discussion and ensures that order is maintained.

             Evaluates Meetings: Evaluates every meeting to ensure that its objectives have been met.

A modified good read from my cuurent employer…check out for Part II.

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