Meetings can be the most dreaded part of business life. Too often, they feel aimless and unproductive, and can quickly sap employee morale. But the best leaders can run effective meetings that empower employees to actually get things done.
Hierarchies and roles
Depending on your company culture, your meetings might be most effective with one person in a clearly defined leadership role; or, your team might work best in a less hierarchical environment. As you plan your meeting, think carefully about the team. Are they at their best when working under clear instructions, or do they work well in a more informal setting? In a traditional boardroom environment, the leader sits at the head of the table, as befits someone high up in a hierarchy. But in meetings where you want to put participants at ease, the leader might be better off sitting at the middle of the table.
Have goals and a plan
Begin the meeting knowing what you want to accomplish. There are four types of meetings:
• Action-oriented meetings: meetings that solve a time-sensitive problem
• Creative meetings: free-flowing sessions that are about churning out new ideas
• Short-term planning meetings: meetings that involve team interaction and strategising
• Long-term planning meetings: meetings in which executives – and perhaps other staff – set long-term goals and strategies
Establishing a clear purpose to your meeting will assist in setting your agenda and deciding whose attendance is necessary. It will also demonstrate to meeting participants that the gathering is important.
Respect the schedule
Time management is key to running an effective meeting, so create a schedule with time limits for each agenda item to help participants stay focused and on task. Respect employee time; if you’ve got a reputation for starting and ending meetings on time, everyone will make an effort to attend your meetings.
Both you and your attendees need to be prepared. Distribute necessary materials – agendas, reports, etc. – to participants ahead of time, and make it clear that you expect them to have reviewed the materials. If you want participants to help develop strategy or vision, provide them with information or prompts so that they can begin formulating ideas ahead of time. It’s important for everyone – leaders, executives, and staff – to have done their homework for a meeting to be effective.
Are you holding Empowering meetings?
Adapted from an article by Marla Tabaka, inc.com