10 rules of effective meeting

Each of us often took part in various meetings. Some of them lasted longer, others shorter. Some of them can run in ideally planned time frames, and the others often last much longer than would be expected by the participants. So how to plan meetings that will be maximal effective and involving participants? In this article, I decided to present "10 principles of an effective meeting", based on our own experience and conversations with people who, thanks to individual methods, created a universal model for conducting meetings, for which team members came in willingly and showed great commitment.

What is the difference between a good meeting and bad?

The message that meetings can waste your time is not anything new. To further make the problem of bad meetings more aware, I will use an example of a small software development company. A 7-member team meets regularly to discuss important elements related to the further development of the product it is working on. Let's assume that the value of the project is $ 300,000, and in total, team members spend about 15% of the total time to create a product. Converting to $, it gives us $ 45,000! I think that you will find at least a few ways to use this amount wisely, for instance by buying a course on effective meetings.

So if you want to make the next meetings take place according to exact time frame and assumptions regarding the expected effects, remember what the last 'bad' bad meeting in which you participated? What made me dodge through the door ajar on any occasion, so that no one would notice that you left the room?

The main reasons for this state of affairs are most often:

  • ignorance of the purpose of the meeting
  • no agenda prepared
  • being late for the other team members
  • the leaders let them descend to the side subjects
  • Most people focused more on scrolling the Facebook wall than on active participation in the meeting
  • many threads were touched, but none of them ended with clear arrangements
  • the meeting ended without further steps

How to change the picture of bad meetings in good meetings? The key to conducting meetings during which each member will feel responsible for its efficient and effective course is changing the attitudes of the participants towards the role of meetings as a very important part of the work of the project team. All team members taking part in the meeting should be convinced that the meetings are real work. The measure of whether the meeting was effective is your final satisfaction and the sense of achieving the intended goals and the increase of positive energy, thanks to which you can not wait for the next meeting.

To ensure that every meeting, regardless of its rank, is effective, all efforts should be made on the basis of the following activities:

    1. Start by setting the goal of the meeting and try to achieve it

    2. Make the meeting as short as possible

    3. Present the participants with precise next steps.

There are basic methods from which you should start the process of changing bad encounters into good ones. However, now I will present 10 key principles that, combined with each other, will ensure each meeting a high level of efficiency, and the way they are conducted will be vaccinated among all participants, thanks to which meetings held by other people will also be fully effective.

1. Does the meeting have to take place?

Just as you ask yourself why, when you have to deal with a new task, just before you decide to devote your time and energy to the team during the meeting and involve the other members, you must be sure that the meeting has a real reason to be It was held. You must clearly define its purpose. What will the result you want to achieve with this meeting? This means that your meeting should have a clearly defined goal or as a result you will be able to find a solution to the problem for which it should take place.


2. Each meeting should have agenda and clearly defined goals. 

Very often, meetings can be diverted from the main theme, especially when the subject is interesting and debatable. Therefore, in order to keep the meeting within the established framework, it is necessary to have a prepared agenda and specific goals, about which team members will be informed before the meeting. It is also an important aspect that the persons leading the meeting should share the agenda items earlier and be careful to maintain themselves within the time frame assigned to each of the points.


3. Respect the time of each participant

Starting a meeting in accordance with the set time will allow you to create a habit among other team members not to be late and arrange their work so as not to interrupt it at a very important moment. Besides, as a leader, you certainly do not like the sound of the door being opened every now and sneak up on the fingers of late people trying to find a seated place in secret. Another issue related to respecting one's and one's time is to avoid monopolizing the meeting, but persuading other participants to express their views. 


4. 'Restore group'

No matter how carefully you plan a meeting, it is inevitable that you will experience distractions and move away from the subject you are talking about. Before the meeting, you should be prepared for the emergence of situations in which you will have to skillfully and kindly redirect the conversation to the right track when any member tries to go out with his position not related to the point of the agenda.

Here are some methods of polite "restoring conversations":

Reflection: if one of the participants suddenly changes the subject of the conversation, make sure you return to it, but first finish the current agenda item: "The question you are talking about is very important, but before we focus on it, let's summarize the current thread."

Parking: this method creates a list of topics you want to know about before, but they will not be available at the moment. Thanks to this, if someone suddenly gets in touch with a new topic while discussing one of the main issues, you can simply say, "This is an important topic that requires time, I will note it later, but let's get back to the details of current affairs." Then save it to get back at the end of the meeting (or determine when it will be discussed).

Teacher: when during the meeting team members will talk about completely unrelated topics, remind them that everyone wants to finish it equally with time: "I know you definitely have a great topic to discuss, but we only have about 10 minutes left, so let us all to persevere and make the meeting according to plan, and after finishing with will, I will join you in your conversation."


5. Stay mentally and physically present

Try to concentrate as much as possible on what happens during the meeting. It is important that you not only listen, but also participate emotionally, as if this was the most important meeting this week. Also, be respectful of the other participants you would expect. Therefore, let them speak freely and do not make conversations that deviate from the subject of the meeting.


6. Encourage participation

Up to this point, you could have done a perfect job setting both the order of the meeting and determining the duration of individual points. But the biggest challenge you will face is to make everyone actively participate in the meeting. It is not about calling reaction in the form of participants' nods on the topic you are discussing, because it does not necessarily mean that someone actually agrees with you. Instead, try to trigger a debate that will be based on the intended framework of the topic, without unnecessary digressions and entering new areas.


7. Criticize the action, not the person

During a meeting in which the results of past activities are discussed, do not blame for possible negative results of individual people, but focus on the substantive assessment of behaviors, so that the individuals can learn the lessons and make changes.

Looking for those guilty for a poor result will not make the situation suddenly better. On the contrary. The chance for a faster solution to the problem is even more distant from your team. 


8. Together, determine the next steps of action

With this method, you can engage with all team members to ensure a more efficient course of further work, and that's what everyone cares about.


9. Formulate decisions

Make sure all participants in the meeting agree to the decisions made, otherwise their implementation will be impossible. Write down all possible problems and supplementary meetings if necessary. Control effects as a result of decisions made and try to identify any irregularities on an ongoing basis.


10. Create a summary of the completed meeting

At the end of the meeting, discuss all the decisions taken once again and remind everyone for what tasks they are responsible for. Make sure that both participants, management and absentees have received a report from the meeting to ensure that they have access to the latest information to make them feel connected with their activities.

Develop your own, reliable scheme

All the above-mentioned rules do not have to bring the expected results immediately. At the beginning, let yourself and other team members get used to the new form of conducting meetings. In addition, do not treat these methods as rigid criteria - these are just examples of actions that you should test in your organization and draw conclusions based on current results. If you think that some of them do not work, feel free and modify them until you feel full satisfaction after 3 consecutive meetings.

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