Meetings that Matter

Do you ever feel like you’re holding a meeting to schedule another meeting to discuss a meeting you previously met about? Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by all the meetings I attend, yet I know—if properly managed—meetings are an effective way to delegate tasks and monitor their progress to ensure project success.   

I recently received a link to an online leadership resource called Books 24x7, which highlights a few tips for conducting effective meetings. We should all keep these points in mind in order to get the most out of our many meetings.

Begin with a positive message.

Regardless of the purpose of a meeting, encourage and uplift your participants by sharing with them what’s going right in the organization. If the point of the meeting is to evaluate an event, let your volunteers and committee know what you think they did well first.

Create an agenda, share it with your attendees, and stick to it.

It’s always useful if participants know the goals of a meeting and, generally, what to expect. While it may be easy to create an agenda, it’s usually much harder to stick to it. Try adding time frames next to your agenda items to stay on track, and focus on the most timely (and time-consuming) action item first. You can always schedule a follow-up meeting, as a last resort.

Keep your eye on the prize.

Ultimately, you have goals in mind for your meeting such as making decisions, assigning tasks, creating an action plan, etc. Keep sharply focused on the meeting’s goals for the duration of the meeting, bringing attendees back to the task at hand if they stray from the meeting’s objectives.

To lead the meeting, be a good listener.

After you’ve set the tone for the meeting and communicated the goals, listen to what others have to say. Let them feel like active participants in the process, but be mindful that you may have to reel in those who try to take center stage for too long or stray off course.

Avoid having meetings to simply have meetings.

Do you really need to meet again, or could a follow-up decision be made via email? Everyone’s time is valuable, so try to avoid convening if doing so is truly unnecessary.

Communicate the meeting’s results to the team.

After a meeting, send minutes to all participants to ensure the meeting’s outcomes are understood and next steps have been clarified. Everyone will then have a record of what was discussed and an idea of what to expect as the team moves forward.