Making the Most of Meetings

Reviewed May 30, 2017

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Summary

For the meeting facilitator:

  • Meet with all (and only) those necessary to do the job.
  • Start the meeting at the designated time.
  • Introduce meeting participants.

Meetings can be a great way to share critical information and generate ideas with members of your staff or team about business developments. However, if they are led ineffectively, they can be a waste of time. The success of a meeting depends not only on the competence of the leader, but also on the attentiveness of the listener.

Facilitators

Here is a list of guidelines for a meeting leader:

  • Meet with all (and only) those necessary to do the job.
  • Start the meeting at the designated time and make sure the meeting ends on time.
  • Introduce meeting participants. Provide nametags if necessary.
  • Prepare an agenda and stick to it. Use handouts if applicable.
  • Establish meeting guidelines (for example, no side conversations; emphasize promptness for all attendees).
  • Limit agenda items.
  • Avoid the urge to solve problems in the meeting (unless that is the agenda item).
  • Project your voice so that everyone can hear you.
  • Ask if anyone has questions at different points throughout the meeting. Look directly at the person who is speaking.
  • Involve everyone in the group. Turn to people who haven’t offered an opinion and ask for one.
  • Encourage different points of view, critical thinking, and constructive disagreement.
  • Keep visual aids simple.
  • Stay focused.
  • Record follow-up items.
  • Verify the next meeting date, time, place, and participants. Let everyone know that you have kept a list of items not covered that day, and that you will address them at a later date.

For a meeting that includes people calling in by phone or video, remember to include those people, too. Keep in mind that people who are on the phone only can’t see what’s going on in the room, so they can’t see your gestures or visual aids.

As the meeting is drawing to a close, press for a conclusion. Use the last few moments to summarize highlights and decisions and restate all agreed-upon assignments and deadlines. Conclude the meeting on a positive note by thanking participants for their attendance and contributions.

You also might want to find a “mentor” who attends some of your meetings to observe your presentations. After each meeting, you and your mentor should discuss what you think went well during the meeting and what could be improved.

Attendees

Do

  • Be on time
  • Pay attention
  • Be well prepared and knowledgeable about what it is you are expected to contribute
  • Participate in the discussion
  • Be brief, relevant, focused, and courteous in your comments

Don’t

  • Carry on side conversations
  • Make jokes that not everyone can understand. This is especially important if there are people on the phone. Remember that humor doesn’t always translate across phone lines.

Resources

Messages: The Communication Skills Book, third edition, by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning. New Harbinger Publications, 2009.

Presentation Skills 201: How to Take it to the Next Level as a Confident, Engaging Presenter by William R. Steele. Outskirts Press, 2009.

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, second edition, by Garr Reynolds. New Riders Press, 2011.

Mind Tools
www.mindtools.com

Toastmasters International
www.toastmasters.org

By Amy Daugherty
Source: Communicating at Work: Improve Your Speaking, Listening, Presentation and Correspondence Skills to Get More Done and Get What You Want at Work by Tony Alessandra and Phil Hunsaker. Fireside Books, 1993; Making Successful Presentations: A Self-teaching Guide (second edition) by Terry C. Smith. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1991.

Summary

For the meeting facilitator:

  • Meet with all (and only) those necessary to do the job.
  • Start the meeting at the designated time.
  • Introduce meeting participants.

Meetings can be a great way to share critical information and generate ideas with members of your staff or team about business developments. However, if they are led ineffectively, they can be a waste of time. The success of a meeting depends not only on the competence of the leader, but also on the attentiveness of the listener.

Facilitators

Here is a list of guidelines for a meeting leader:

  • Meet with all (and only) those necessary to do the job.
  • Start the meeting at the designated time and make sure the meeting ends on time.
  • Introduce meeting participants. Provide nametags if necessary.
  • Prepare an agenda and stick to it. Use handouts if applicable.
  • Establish meeting guidelines (for example, no side conversations; emphasize promptness for all attendees).
  • Limit agenda items.
  • Avoid the urge to solve problems in the meeting (unless that is the agenda item).
  • Project your voice so that everyone can hear you.
  • Ask if anyone has questions at different points throughout the meeting. Look directly at the person who is speaking.
  • Involve everyone in the group. Turn to people who haven’t offered an opinion and ask for one.
  • Encourage different points of view, critical thinking, and constructive disagreement.
  • Keep visual aids simple.
  • Stay focused.
  • Record follow-up items.
  • Verify the next meeting date, time, place, and participants. Let everyone know that you have kept a list of items not covered that day, and that you will address them at a later date.

For a meeting that includes people calling in by phone or video, remember to include those people, too. Keep in mind that people who are on the phone only can’t see what’s going on in the room, so they can’t see your gestures or visual aids.

As the meeting is drawing to a close, press for a conclusion. Use the last few moments to summarize highlights and decisions and restate all agreed-upon assignments and deadlines. Conclude the meeting on a positive note by thanking participants for their attendance and contributions.

You also might want to find a “mentor” who attends some of your meetings to observe your presentations. After each meeting, you and your mentor should discuss what you think went well during the meeting and what could be improved.

Attendees

Do

  • Be on time
  • Pay attention
  • Be well prepared and knowledgeable about what it is you are expected to contribute
  • Participate in the discussion
  • Be brief, relevant, focused, and courteous in your comments

Don’t

  • Carry on side conversations
  • Make jokes that not everyone can understand. This is especially important if there are people on the phone. Remember that humor doesn’t always translate across phone lines.

Resources

Messages: The Communication Skills Book, third edition, by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning. New Harbinger Publications, 2009.

Presentation Skills 201: How to Take it to the Next Level as a Confident, Engaging Presenter by William R. Steele. Outskirts Press, 2009.

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, second edition, by Garr Reynolds. New Riders Press, 2011.

Mind Tools
www.mindtools.com

Toastmasters International
www.toastmasters.org

By Amy Daugherty
Source: Communicating at Work: Improve Your Speaking, Listening, Presentation and Correspondence Skills to Get More Done and Get What You Want at Work by Tony Alessandra and Phil Hunsaker. Fireside Books, 1993; Making Successful Presentations: A Self-teaching Guide (second edition) by Terry C. Smith. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1991.

Summary

For the meeting facilitator:

  • Meet with all (and only) those necessary to do the job.
  • Start the meeting at the designated time.
  • Introduce meeting participants.

Meetings can be a great way to share critical information and generate ideas with members of your staff or team about business developments. However, if they are led ineffectively, they can be a waste of time. The success of a meeting depends not only on the competence of the leader, but also on the attentiveness of the listener.

Facilitators

Here is a list of guidelines for a meeting leader:

  • Meet with all (and only) those necessary to do the job.
  • Start the meeting at the designated time and make sure the meeting ends on time.
  • Introduce meeting participants. Provide nametags if necessary.
  • Prepare an agenda and stick to it. Use handouts if applicable.
  • Establish meeting guidelines (for example, no side conversations; emphasize promptness for all attendees).
  • Limit agenda items.
  • Avoid the urge to solve problems in the meeting (unless that is the agenda item).
  • Project your voice so that everyone can hear you.
  • Ask if anyone has questions at different points throughout the meeting. Look directly at the person who is speaking.
  • Involve everyone in the group. Turn to people who haven’t offered an opinion and ask for one.
  • Encourage different points of view, critical thinking, and constructive disagreement.
  • Keep visual aids simple.
  • Stay focused.
  • Record follow-up items.
  • Verify the next meeting date, time, place, and participants. Let everyone know that you have kept a list of items not covered that day, and that you will address them at a later date.

For a meeting that includes people calling in by phone or video, remember to include those people, too. Keep in mind that people who are on the phone only can’t see what’s going on in the room, so they can’t see your gestures or visual aids.

As the meeting is drawing to a close, press for a conclusion. Use the last few moments to summarize highlights and decisions and restate all agreed-upon assignments and deadlines. Conclude the meeting on a positive note by thanking participants for their attendance and contributions.

You also might want to find a “mentor” who attends some of your meetings to observe your presentations. After each meeting, you and your mentor should discuss what you think went well during the meeting and what could be improved.

Attendees

Do

  • Be on time
  • Pay attention
  • Be well prepared and knowledgeable about what it is you are expected to contribute
  • Participate in the discussion
  • Be brief, relevant, focused, and courteous in your comments

Don’t

  • Carry on side conversations
  • Make jokes that not everyone can understand. This is especially important if there are people on the phone. Remember that humor doesn’t always translate across phone lines.

Resources

Messages: The Communication Skills Book, third edition, by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning. New Harbinger Publications, 2009.

Presentation Skills 201: How to Take it to the Next Level as a Confident, Engaging Presenter by William R. Steele. Outskirts Press, 2009.

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, second edition, by Garr Reynolds. New Riders Press, 2011.

Mind Tools
www.mindtools.com

Toastmasters International
www.toastmasters.org

By Amy Daugherty
Source: Communicating at Work: Improve Your Speaking, Listening, Presentation and Correspondence Skills to Get More Done and Get What You Want at Work by Tony Alessandra and Phil Hunsaker. Fireside Books, 1993; Making Successful Presentations: A Self-teaching Guide (second edition) by Terry C. Smith. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1991.

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