Better, More Effective Meetings
Whether the meetings involve staff, administrators or citizens, they can be more productive if they are well organized and conducted. Making sure your meetings are effective isn’t all that difficult, but it does require a bit of planning.
When a meeting can be avoided because the same information can be delivered by email, memo or a report – don’t meet.
Don’t hold a meeting unless you have:
- A clear purpose/objectives
- A timed agenda
- A presenter for each topic to be discussed
- A neutral facilitator if you anticipate a difficult meeting
Prior to the meeting make sure you have:
- Provided a timed agenda including the topics, purpose, persons responsible to present
- Established and announced the location site, date and time
- Provided background or necessary information
Start all meetings on time. This rewards those who are punctual and encourages those that are tardy to get there on time. Make every effort to finish the meeting on time. Have someone take notes of all decisions, documenting action items, responsible parties and timelines for completion.
Tips to keep Meetings on Track
- If a session goes longer than the allotted time on the agenda, table the issue if necessary.
- If a decision must be made, reschedule another meeting time. Make certain participants know that the discussion will go on for as long as it takes to come to a decision.
- To keep critical or negative conversations from emerging, be clear about who is leading, what the meeting is about, and how long it will last. Having a well-developed agenda will make all the difference if conversations become critical. Use the agenda as an agreed upon ground rule by kindly but firmly moving participants back to the agenda.
- When the purpose or reasons for regularly scheduled meetings no longer exist, stop meeting.
- One of the most effective strategies is to use a written, timed agenda. You may think using an agenda sets a formal tone that may be inappropriate for the informality of some meetings, but it is actually reassuring to participants, even for informal meetings – the more guidance they have about the meeting tasks and time allotted for them, the more likely they are to address them and finish on time. A detailed agenda has other advantages – it can keep people (including the chairperson) on task, it helps to limit long-winded discussions or monologues, and most critically, helps participants stay focused on what’s most important.
(Taken from the KLC How to Communicate: A Communications Toolkit for Municipal Governments)