7 Tips To Give You More Control In Meetings
Why do so many of us struggle to keep meetings on track? Well thanks to the ever-increasing pace that organisations have to move at, very few of us actually have the time to think about and plan our meetings in advance these days. And, of course, rushing from meeting to meeting is only going to cost you in the long run.
Enough of the why- what about the “how”? How do you keep things running to schedule?
Outcomes-Based Meetings Have A Clear Purpose And Agenda
Before the meeting let the attendees know what needs to be tabled. Create your agenda and prepare any supporting material in advance so your contributors have a chance to prepare. If you know that certain attendees will take up more time than you have available, also document what will not be discussed at the meeting so the parameters are defined clearly from the outset.
Manage The Meeting Size
It is really easy for a meeting to go off track or get out of hand when there are too many people present. When there are too many attendees it is less likely that people will take accountability for tasks and even pay full attention to the discussions. Of course the other extreme is not ideal either: if there aren’t enough people in attendance you might not get the full range of opinions you need. What’s the moral? Be selective. Only invite the people who are essential to the meeting.
Create The Appropriate Tone
The tone or mood of the meeting is essential for people to feel comfortable enough to contribute. As the manager of the meeting it is up to you to deal with everyone’s ideas and you set the benchmarks for tone, behaviour and conduct. Conduct yourself in the manner in which you expect everyone else to behave.
Manage Individual Distractions
There should be time and place for everyone to ask questions but there isn’t enough meeting time available for people to go off track or distract the group from the purpose of the meeting. If you are working with someone who is known for his or her tendency to go off track, speak to that person ahead of time and ask him or her to restrict his or her contributions to what is being discussed on the agenda.
Sometimes it is not just one person who takes the group off focus, but rather the result of something extraneous being brought up, which gets the support of a few people in the group. Then it becomes really easy for the meeting to be derailed. If this does happen it is a good idea to refer them to the original agenda and ask them to refocus. On occasion it may happen that someone tries repeatedly to divert the focus of the group. If this occurs it is best not to question that person directly about derailing the meeting. Rather ask the person what their underlying agenda is so the issue can be cleated and the rest of the agenda can be worked through.
Pace Your Transitions
Sometimes leaders can flick between topics too quickly. The meeting leader might be ready to move on but the rest of the group may not be. It is an effective technique to ask everyone if they are ready to move forward to a new agenda item. Allow your contributors the time and space to process each discussion. Getting their consent will also help to keep the discussion more targeted and paced appropriately for everyone present.
End The Meeting On A Positive Note
You should aim to end the meeting on a high note, because this is what sets the tone for the work that needs to follow and the tasks that need to be completed to achieve your meeting objectives. A feedback mechanism is useful because it allows consent in terms of the steps that need to be followed to achieve the objectives- as well as who should be responsible for them. When we have agreement there is no confusion about what is expected of all parties.
Do have a clear agenda and clear meeting purpose.
Do talk to people who might take up too much of the meeting’s allocated time
Do follow up with an email, defining the next steps and who is responsible for realising them (or let Cosapien’s task management function to take care of it for you).
Don’t feel the need to invite a lot of people. Keep the group to the minimum
Don’t move forward or introduce a new topic until you have group consensus and have given everyone a chance to be heard.
Don’t allow the group to be diverted by tangents. Postpone these for later discussions.
Do you need help with meetings? Join Cosapien and start holding outcomes-based meetings today.