5 (+) Tips for Running Effective Meetings

After making the same recommendations to several clients seemingly having identical challenges over the past years, I’ve decided to some simple research and provide three viewpoints, one of which is the foundation closest to what my experience proves is the most effective.

BNET’s Crash Course on How to Run an Effective Meeting, will serve as the foundation for my shared best practice for Running Effective Meetings.

  1. Make Every Meeting Matter (or Don’t Meet at All); Decide if a meeting is needed and invite only the necessary people
  2. Define Goals & Objectives; Create a structure for your meeting (time-lock the start & stop of the meeting & stick to it)
  3. Own Your Meeting; Take charge and keep your meeting moving forward
  4. Make it a meeting of Minds; Get the constructive input you need from everyone present
  5. Close with a Plan of Action; Make sure everyone leaves knowing the next step

These are indeed areas of highest impact toward guaranteeing a successful meeting for all participants. As the organizer of a meeting, or facilitator, however you prefer to identify yourself, there are also valuable tools contained within the presentation developed by Matt Cameron and Cheryl Azevedo Johnson of Santa Clara University. The statistics in this presentation, even though from from 2003, still remain relevant based on what I’ve seen pretty much around the globe:

Characteristics of a Negative Meeting

  • 83% — Drifting off the subject
  • 77% — Poor preparation
  • 74% — Questionable effectiveness
  • 68% — Lack of listening
  • 62% — Verbosity of participants
  • 60% — Length
  • 51% — Lack of participation

What are People looking for in an Effective Meeting

  • 88% — allow all attendees to participate
  • 66% — define a meeting’s purpose
  • 62% — address each item on the agenda
  • 59% — assign follow up action
  • 47% — record discussion
  • 46% — invite only essential personnel
  • 36% — write an agenda w/time frames

So there you have it! If you know what people are looking for, then, with the help of the 5 points at the beginning of this post, all you have to is avoid the pitfalls and give your participants what they want! 🙂 Easy enough.. no?

The additional micro-tips provided on pages 7 through 9, how to overcome the challenges outlined in 11 through 13 & the non-verbal listening skills outlined on page 15, are all very relevant information that will help you be successful in Running Effective Meetings.

Additionally, if you want another perspective, after all you have to ensure that every best practice suits your specific needs, this article from Business Week on How to Run a Meeting like Google, gives you Google’s Vice-President of Search Products Marissa Mayer’s unique perspective and useful examples, especially innovative is her “item 3 – carve out Micro meetings”.

The most common mistakes I’ve seen is (1) the lack of a Parking Lot to keep the meeting on-track & on-time, (2) the lack of perspective as to time allocated for each point & staying on schedule, (3) establishing the meeting scope before the first word is spoken, and (4) being results driven to ensure that decisions are made, actionable and accountable to single individuals.

P.S. Yet another perspective can be found here.

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