Make Meetings Matter
Articles by Charlie Hawkins
meetings don't just "happen" they are planned. By some estimates,
more than 73 million meetings are held around the world every day. Unfortunately,
many are boring, rambling and unproductive energy is low, frustration
high and results non-existent.
Productive meetings are focused around a single purpose or objective, determined by:
Ask yourself if a meeting is the best way to accomplish the results. If a memo, fax or e-mail would work as well, don't waste everyone's time. If a meeting is better, group agenda items into one or more of these categories:
Focus the meeting by ranking agenda items in order of importance, and
setting time goals. For example, give the top three items 15 minutes each;
target all others for five minutes. Have a timekeeper signal the group
when time is running out. You may want to spend more than the allotted
time on an item just be aware of the tradeoffs.
One way to ensure an effective meeting is to have a neutral facilitator
run the meeting process. The facilitator frees participants to focus on
content. When the person calling the meeting also names him/herself as
"leader," a conflict of interest exists that makes it difficult to objectively
run the meeting.
In the most effective meetings, people share more than information,
ideas and opinions. They share information about themselves and relate
to one another on a human level. One way to encourage this is with a member
"check in" at the beginning of each meeting, with individual mini reports
of events in their areas. Unstructured social time before, during or after
the meeting can also build a cohesive group. The better participants know
each other, the better they will understand how and why their "meeting
mates" respond the way they do.
In effective meetings, participants are aware of how the group is doing
as well as what is getting accomplished. The facilitator solicits feedback
from participants on time issues, agenda management and group maintenance.
One may ask, "How are we doing?" Or, "We're out of time on this issue
shall we continue, or wrap it up and move on?"