Managing Meetings

Effectively Managing Meetings is one of the most vital components for the effective use of your time. So many people quote boring, unproductive meetings as being a ‘waste of time’, that some sense of it all is needed.

Managing Meetings will help you make the best use of your time, whilst acknowledging the tremendous value of utilising those real opportunities, where people get together in a generative, growth focused way.

“Meetings are a symptom of bad organisation. The fewer meetings the better.”

Peter Drucker

…and of course this is absolutely right – so when we recognise there is an opportunity for a meeting of minds, it is crucial to get the greatest value from them!

Top Ten Things About Managing Meetings

Great meetings are a pleasure to be in. They are focused, relevant, deliver progress with the right people there. Yet they are so rare! So there are some tricks and tips to it, because….
Great meetings are a pleasure to be in. They are focused, relevant, deliver progress with the right people there. Yet they are so rare! So there are some tricks and tips to it, because….

…those best at Managing Meetings

  1. Have a Clear Purpose
    They make sure that the meeting is relevant and will benefit from a gathering of people to generate the best result. Some meetings are informational and do not require this level of time and debate.
  2. Invite the Right People
    They are clear about who truly needs to have input into the meeting, to deliver the outcome required. It is down to the ability to contribute-what-no-one-else-can. They bring something special to the party!
  3. Manage Behaviours
    Reviewing behaviours of everyone attending a meeting requires real objectivity and focus. For this reason it is important to save a little time at the end of the meeting, to review what has gone well and what needs to be done differently next time.
  4. Designate Roles
    There are a variety of roles. Chairperson, contributors, note-takers, facilitators and more. Managing Meetings is about clearly defined roles and can be a real opportunity to develop individuals. The Chairperson need not be the leader!
  5. Insist on Commitment
    Those great at Managing Meetings are very clear about the importance of respecting the meeting forum. So they get that contract agreed from all involved – including themselves.
  6. Maintain Discipline
    Those best at Managing Meetings are able to either facilitate themselves, to ensure everything is kept on the track defined by the Agenda, or they recognise the value of getting someone else in who can (see Facilitation).
  7. Have Brilliant Timing
    Achievement of the agreed meeting timescales is a critical component of excellent meetings. It builds faith in the system and encourages anything off-agenda to be parked for other occasions.
  8. Clarify Outputs and Accountabilities
    The meeting outcomes have to have clear following actions, clear accountabilities and clear timescales, understood and agreed by all.
  9. Use an Agenda
    By ensuring that an agenda is provided, everyone knows the purpose and background – thus improving commitment and understanding upfront.
  10. Are Model Participants Themselves
    By enabling a culture of constant learning and development all, led by the meeting leader, will accept when changes are necessary in the future. It is vital to appreciate the input of all participants.

Ten Ways to be Better at Managing Meetings

  1. Have a Process
    Start small – learn as you go – but start! Create a clear agenda and circulate with information to be read in advance. Generate agreement of process when actually in the meeting.
  2. Who’s Coming!
    Make sure that only relevant people attend your meetings; they are well prepared and that roles within the meeting are clearly delegated (see above).
  3. Stick to Purpose
    With the right agenda and the right people, it is vital that everyone sticks to the reason for the meeting and that agreement is made to ‘park’ items that come up outside the meetings scope. Then a facility is made to follow-up on these. They are important to someone.
  4. Have a Structure
    With your clear agenda, ensure that all the components you need to make the actual meeting work, to create the outcome you need, are present.
  5. Get Moving
    Get clear with post-meeting actions and timescales and get everyone to sign up to their accountabilities on the spot. Meetings get frustrating if nothing happens from one meeting to the next.
  6. Be Honest
    Within the organised structure of the meeting, be truthful with each other with feedback in the moment or at the end – this sounds scary, but isn’t. Accept challenges and grow.
  7. Play the Game
    As a member of the meeting you have your part to play – it might be tough to accept, but you are going to get better results if you stop pulling rank – be an equal with your people and stick to everyone’s rules of the meeting.
  8. Create a Culture
    By honouring each other in the meeting, you will grow together and a supportive, encouraging culture will develop. This has a wider impact than just the meeting. It is about team, performance, development and more!
  9. Everyone Knows
    There is a need for people to do things in a meeting. Like facilitate the outcome (which you may wish to outsource); like keep track of time; take notes; list out-of-scopes and note action points etc.
  10. Review Performance RegularlyBy having a structure in place for post-meeting review (literally 10 minutes at the end of the agenda), you will all learn and grow.

5 Simple Actions You Can Take Today!

  • Consider the meetings you took part in during the last week. Being really honest, how productive were they on a scale of 1 to 10. What would a meeting with a score of 3 better have been like?
  • Consider the behaviours in the meetings you are part of. How do you personally behave? Compare your contribution to others present.
  • Who gets involved in your meetings – and who doesn’t? Be really focused about the value each gets from being there.
  • Would you benefit from more or less meetings next week? Consider what you could do with the extra time.
  • Ensure that everyone is clear of what is expected of them and by when, as they leave the meeting.

Read some great books – like:-

*Time to Think” – Nancy Kline
“Managing Meetings (Essential Managers)” – Tim Hindle
“How to Make Meetings Work: The New Interaction Method” – Doyle & Straus

We also recommend…

Steve Davis’s wonderful web-site and resources, especially his excellent newsletter, Master¬†Facilitator Journal. Steve is also at the cutting edge of many areas around
facilitation and he runs regular and varied teleclasses. Check it out!