Running An Effective Meeting


Quick poll before we begin: who joined their committee so that they could enjoy countless hours of unproductive meetings? Anyone…?

No, of course you didn’t! Despite this, you may not be able to count the amount of times you’ve found yourself in that exact situation.

Well listen up! If you never want to find yourself in that situation again, today’s your lucky day. I am going to show you how to manage those unproductive meetings so that you can reclaim your valuable time. The time you invest in reading this article today is time you will save exponentially in meetings from today forward.

The saying ‘a quick meeting is a good meeting’ should be qualified; it is not just a ‘quick’ meeting that we should be aiming to achieve. What committees really should be aiming for is an EFFECTIVE meeting. The duration of the meeting itself will be influenced by the number and complexity of your agenda items. But regardless of the topics you need to discuss, adopting three key principles will ensure that your meeting is effective at reaching the resolutions you intended to, in the most efficient and collaborative way possible.

So, what’s the secret?

PREPARATION

If I could have summarised this topic in one word it would be this: preparation!

How many times have you sat in a meeting and heard the words ‘Oh sorry – was I meant to do that?’ or ‘my apologies – I just didn’t have time’. We’re all human, but it can be a very frustrating when a meeting that has been planned for weeks or months can’t progress due to someone’s lack of preparation. If YOU are involved in a project on your committee, ensure you consider your other commitments and provide a reasonable timeframe for your action.

Even if you don’t have a specific action to follow through or report on, preparing for a meeting is a quick, easy way to ensure your contributions to the meeting are valuable. Spend just 15 minutes before the meeting reading through the agenda, familiarising yourself with any key attachments such as quotes, and jot down any specific questions or extra items of business you might have. It doesn’t matter how or where you prepare, whether you are in your car or on the train, or on the couch the night before – if you commit that small amount of time, your involvement will be all the more valuable.

Remember, as Benjamin Franklin famously said ‘If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. Don’t fail at your next meeting.

FACILITATION

Well run meetings don’t just happen. Every meeting needs a strong and able facilitator to provide direction to the meeting, ensure everyone contributes fairly, and that all business is attended to. Normally this is the role of the Chairperson but in some cases, the Chairperson may ask for assistance, especially if they know they want to be heavily involved in a discussion or if the role is new to them.

Even if you’re not the Chairperson, you can assist in ensuring the meeting runs well:

  • Follow the agenda. You might have some very important issues to discuss, and some of them may even relate to other topics on the agenda, but to ensure the meeting runs smoothly, table any separate items of business in ‘general business’ toward the end of the meeting. If a thought strikes you mid-meeting, note it down quickly so that you don’t forget!
  • Respect your facilitator or Chairperson. It’s their job to keep the meeting running smoothly so if they ask you to consider holding a topic for discussion until the end of the meeting, don’t take it personally. Again, jot the topic down so you can come back to it later.

With many years of experience behind them, our SSKB Owners Corporation Managers are expert at facilitating a positive meeting. If you’d like assistance or guidance in this area we would love to be able to help at your next meeting – either by facilitating for you, or being on hand to prompt and guide you.

COMMUNICATION

A lot of the delays and repetition in meetings are caused by simple miscommunication. I’m sure we’ve all come across the following communicators in our meetings:

  • The daydreamer – comes in part way through a conversation and asks a question that has already been answered.
  • The dictator – will state opinion as fact and belittle anyone who dares contradict.
  • The diverter – interrupts a conversation to divert the discussion to a different matter.
  • The droner – that one person who goes on and on… and on… about the same issue, repeating themselves.

We can all display some of these negative communication traits at times, so next time you’re in a meeting, take a moment to consider the impact of your communication style. Remember, showing respect to your fellow members by allowing them to have their say, accepting their position even if you don’t necessarily agree, and indicating to them that you understand their point of view,  will always help in ensuring a positive, respectful, and productive communication session (aka meeting!).

Next time you have a meeting scheduled, plan for it to be effective by brushing up on these three key points: preparation, facilitation, and communication. And who knows, you might just finish with time to spare!



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