It’s really not that complicated, which makes it even more maddening that meetings seem to be run poorly so often. If you have been recently frustrated about that, click here for some comic relief with a clip from the classic, Bloody Meetings.
Not every meeting has the same purpose, but following are general guidelines for running an effective meeting. Feel free to forward to your colleagues who may need this!
1. There needs to be a designated facilitator who is responsible for organizing and running the meeting.
2. The facilitator needs to set an agenda and send out a written version at least the day before the meeting – earlier if there is accompanying material to read.
3. Everyone needs to understand the purpose of the meeting and their role. The facilitator needs to bring some enthusiasm to underscore the importance of the meeting!
4. Everyone needs to come prepared. If someone is supposed to make a report, for example, and they are not prepared, they need to be held accountable.
5. Start and end on time. If people suggest off the topic items to discuss, put them in a “parking lot” for a future meeting. Stay on task.
6. Everyone needs to understand how decisions will be made. If it is a Board meeting, then there is voting. If you are the CEO running a staff meeting, then make sure you are clear on how decisions are made. Do you want consensus or do you just want input so you can make a decision? Or are you going to let the staff vote? Any of these can be fine depending on the situation – just make it clear.
7. Encourage constructive conflict. See this previous blog.
8. If the group meets infrequently, it is important to begin with a reminder of “why we are here” – not just the purpose of the meeting, but the greater purpose and mission of the organization; why what we are doing here matters to the world.
9. Minutes are not needed for every meeting, but if they are appropriate for the group then they should be distributed within a week.
10. Make sure that each issue comes to closure with action steps and people assigned to the actions. Follow-up and hold people accountable for doing what they agree to do.
See – this is not rocket science! I know that your next meeting will be SuperFantastic and will allow you to make even more of a Mission Impact.