Back To CourseRunning Effective Meetings
2 chapters | 10 lessons
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Have you ever attended a meeting that went on and on but didn't seem to accomplish much? This can be frustrating and expensive. However, attending a meeting where important issues are discussed and decisions are made can be rewarding. Effective meeting preparation and facilitation can make the difference between wasting time and getting things done.
If you attend or facilitate frequent meetings, you may be tempted to wing it rather than spend time preparing for each one. But if you're unprepared, meetings may take longer, be less productive, and more meetings may be needed! In the end, you can save time by preparing for a meeting.
First of all, follow an agenda. An agenda provides a meeting schedule, participant list, discussion items, and action items for review. Preparing an agenda before a meeting ensures each person has a chance to add relevant items to the schedule. During the meeting, an agenda helps keep everyone focused on the discussion items. An agenda also lists projects underway so that their progress can be reviewed. An agenda helps ensure the meeting is effective and key issues are discussed.
Let's imagine you are the sales manager for a radio station. Each week there's a staff meeting to discuss station opportunities and issues. Over the past several months you had noticed that the staff meeting was running longer with fewer decisions being made. In fact, important issues were being ignored because the meeting was so disorganized. Then two weeks ago, the station manager implemented an agenda to help keep the meeting on track and discuss all relevant issues. The agenda has already made a drastic improvement in meeting productivity.
For a meeting to be effective, the right people must be present. If decision makers are not at the meeting when decisions are needed, the meeting will be a waste of time. Likewise, if people have information that is relevant to meeting topics, those people must attend to ensure the meeting is successful. When some key people are not at a meeting, decisions may be delayed or issues may need to be revisited.
At the radio station, you want to host a customer appreciation event for your top advertisers. To move forward, you need to get the support of other key managers and the general manager. You make sure the event is added to the agenda. However, when it comes time to present your idea, you determine it's a waste of time because key team members are absent. This delay will either push the event back or disrupt planning.
When meeting, it is helpful to have background, or historical, information and proposed suggestions prepared in advance. This helps with answering questions or providing insight on important issues. If decisions need to be made or situations analyzed, having supporting information and documentation is helpful.
When planning your customer appreciation day, you want to know how many advertisers have been with the station for 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years or longer. This information will help you in determining what to do at the customer appreciation event to make it succeed.
Let's say that you get the go-ahead for your customer appreciation day. Now you must meet with your team to plan and implement it. You know how to prepare for these meetings. You should follow some basic steps to facilitate these meetings to achieve your goals.
First, you want to start on time. Nothing is more frustrating than starting late or having only a few of the necessary participants ready on time. When you facilitate a meeting, remind meeting attendees of the start time and emphasize the importance of arriving shortly before the start time.
Secondly, it is important to encourage participation. One effective way of encouraging meeting participation is to ask for discussion points prior to the meeting. These items can be added to the agenda and ensure every person has a chance to bring up important issues for discussion. Another way to engage all members is to ask for input from each member regarding each appropriate issue.
For instance, if your team's discussing ways to recognize advertisers at your customer appreciation day, each person should have a chance to add their thoughts. By asking each individual for input, you ensure each person can participate without anyone dominating the meeting.
Third, you want to defuse conflict. Some topics will be more emotional than others and may create conflict in the group. For instance, if one team member feels another team member is not working hard enough or meeting deadlines, the discussion could create a heated conversation. When facilitating a meeting, try to keep the discussion moving toward resolution and minimize time spent pointing fingers or getting stuck on reviewing the problem. Encourage participants to suggest solutions and compromise.
An effective meeting is one in which problems are discussed, opportunities evaluated, and plans are made to move forward. In moving forward, action items must be determined, including the responsible party and the due date for completion.
For instance, if your team determines that a venue needs to be selected for your customer appreciation event, the responsible team member may have several action items: meet with three potential venue managers, identify venue benefits and drawbacks, and make a recommendation to the team. Each of these action items will have a due date and progress will be reviewed at appropriate timeframes. By identifying specific actions, who will complete the actions, and when results are due, your meetings can be more productive.
If you spend lots of time in meetings, be sure to prepare for them and, if you're leading the meeting, use facilitation techniques to make them productive.
To prepare for a meeting, be sure to follow an agenda, ensure the right people are there, and obtain background information in advance. To facilitate a productive meeting, start on time, encourage participation, diffuse conflict, and create action items for follow-up.
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Back To CourseRunning Effective Meetings
2 chapters | 10 lessons