Holding Effective Meetings

Inspired by The Rules of Management by Richard Templar

The Purpose
We all have been to meetings that appear to drag on forever. Or meetings in which much was said but it was largely fluff and had no concrete substance. I personally used to hold the school of thought that most meetings were a waste of time, which I gradually revised to be as a necessary evil. Truth be told, there should only be four reasons ever why a meeting is held:-
– Pass down or disseminate information
– Obtain information (and make decisions)
– Brainstorming (and make decisions)
– Bonding between a team

Call Me the Meeting Man
Before even calling for a meeting, decide on your agenda and what your objective is (based on the four reasons above). Sometimes we may combine more than one reason, but often it makes much more sense to schedule a different meeting for a different purpose. Next send out the meeting requests, not too near to the meeting date and not too far away – to make it less likely for others to give excuses for missing the meeting. Meetings are best held late in the day so everyone is eager to quickly finish the meeting. It is even better if the meetings can be done by email, phone or one-to-one. If a meeting has more than six people, consider breaking it down to committees which hold their own meetings and get the committees to report back.

Don’t Fall Off the Train
For meetings to be effective, as the chairperson you need to be firmly in charge. Effectiveness will mean you need to ensure no one refuses to shut up, overpowers the meeting, or tries to change the topic. Meetings must start punctually. Do not wait for anyone nor go back over stuff for latecomers. If someone has missed something vital, they can ask others after the meeting, and it teaches them to be punctual next time. Other ides would be to hold meetings standing ala West Wing to keep the meeting short and concise.

Meetings are Fun?!
We should all use meetings to tell stupid jokes and waste time. Just kidding (seriously)!! We do NOT mean that meetings are there as a ‘Haha’ affair. Instead, having fun in meetings means that we allow everyone to be themselves. Fun means not being stuffy. Fun means allowing people to share things and laugh if something is funny. Fun means allowing people to tell stories and anecdotes to lighten the situation (and knowing when to say ‘Alright. Let us get back to business.’)

Last Words and Mission Complete
By the end of today, we should be viewing meetings as an effective way to achieve the objective. At the end of the meeting, we should be able to say clearly and definitely whether the meeting has achieved the purpose we set out to achieve. Good luck!

Question
What suggestions do you have on holding effective meetings?

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6 thoughts on “Holding Effective Meetings

  1. There is no suggestions when the meeting lasts more than 4 hours a session and with multiple sessions.
    I believe that its crucial to make sure the objective is met irregardless of the time and effort put in or else it does not mean anything

    Stev: Well in rare cases a number of hours (or even days!) may be required before a decision can be made. However it needs to be properly facilitated to ensure thoroughness and that the time is well spent! No point if its over something trivial or if everyone’s just bumbling along…

  2. First of all…. WOW, another new template? This one looks great and professional – it’s like saying, “Don’t Play Play Ah. This is a serious site.” LOL. The previous template’s kinda more relaxed and laid back. Now, I am not saying this new look is not great or anything… it’s just that the previous look is my personal preference. You don’t have to mind me though ok 😀

    My opinion on an effective meeting would be one that has the following added elements:

    1) Conducted according to the Agenda and most importantly following the flow of it. So that the focus is not lost and to minimize diversion of topic – of which would lead to wastage of time.

    2) I believe getting the meeting participants to submit beforehand a list of issues encountered and actions taken and also a summarized project status report would facilitate the progress of the meeting. It helps to stay focus too and leave no stone unturned. At least you would get some time to study the case and come up with more solutions to be presented and discussed over the meeting. It would be better still to draw up a standardized format of this report.

    3) As we all know, one of the major aim of a meeting is to resolve issues. It’s pointless to just ramble on and on with one suggestions after another without settling on one. Hence, decision made on an issue must be put across clearly before moving on to the next agenda/topic.

    Well that’s all I could think of now. Of course there are still many minor yet important details to a successful and fruitful meeting, but in my opinion, the 3 criteria above are crucial points to be met.

    P/S: Totally enjoyed this post of yours and also glad to be able to participate in the discussion.
    I know I have been long winded here *chuckled* Please bear with me. As I suddenly had the urge to post a long and detailed comment here.

    Stev: A standardized summary report is a great idea indeed. Also your point #3 is very true & something that I can personally work on as well. Really need to make sure decision is made effectively before moving forward.

    Glad you enjoyed it

    PS. I’m still in the process of playing with skins for a bit ^^

  3. jokes n lots of it. it keeps the atmosphere at a comfortable degree without falling asleep or being at each other’s neck. haha…

    Stev: Everything in moderation… except for stuffy boring meetings… but what are you even there in the first place? Get your meeting done deal and get the hell out. It’s not like sex…

  4. Efficient and effective. From management and production, each of these activities have gone through serious changes over the years. Why then has (the structure of) meetings stay comparatively same over the years?

    Maybe the current form of ‘meeting’ needs a face-lift. As you have put forth, a ‘fun’ meeting is a move away from the norm.

    How about a meeting that happens anywhere anytime! Chaos… or ingenious idea? Discard the image of meeting as a boring scheduled routine! Sauna meetings! Toilet brainstorming! It’s a known fact that the loo is where all the ideas come from.

    How about going leader-less! Everyone’s opinion is as important as the next, so they can shout out their ideas and get it into the brainstorming table without being lost under the gaze of authority. Creativity should not be stamped out!

    Ok, maybe I’ve listed out the reasons why meetings are what they are right now, instead of how to improve them. But you know, great ideas can come from the discarded past. Yeah, I’m kinda babbling right about now…

    Stev: The sauna idea is neat. While the toilet one is err… interesting. Still for brainstorming we can’t really brainstorm if everyone’s exhaling air from their lungs at the same time right?

    great ideas from the discarded past?

  5. Eating ice cream first. It’s hard not to get along with people when you’re doing that. It’s hard not to see the little kid in a person with an ice cream cone. It takes time, demands immediate attention, is pleasurable, and is childlike. That takes the edge off people sometimes.

    Stev: mmm. That’s a deliciously interesting idea. May try that sometime!

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