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Beginners Guide on How to run a meeting

Updated on July 29, 2015

How to run a meeting – for beginners

Being responsible for running your very first business meeting can be quite nerve-racking if you are not sure what is required to make the meeting a success. You are responsible for the smooth running and success of the meeting and let’s be honest, you probably want to make a good impression with your supervisors.

First things, first – take a deep breath, grab a cup of tea/coffee and enjoy reading this article which will give you the steps you need to run your meeting with ease.

Business Meeting
Business Meeting | Source

In order for you to fully understand what makes a successful meeting, we need to identify what makes a meeting effective:

  • Structure – for the chair person to be firm and have knowledge of the agenda
  • Clear Agenda – well-structured and clearly written
  • Invitees – ensure that you have informed all relevant parties of the meeting and agenda well before the meeting date.
  • Effective Time Management – All listed issues need to be addressed within the time slots provided and chair person needs to keep all participants on track and not allow them to go off topic.
  • Minuted – document all actions and ‘to do’ lists, together with person and date who is responsible for the actions.
  • Participation – the chair person is responsible for ensuring that everyone participates in the meeting.
  • Ice – Breakers – using ice-breakers can be a great way to get the meeting off on a good footing.
  • Meetings are a great way to keep all staff informed of happenings within the business.
  • Ensure that personal issues are not discussed at team meetings
  • Focus on positivity and prevent participants voicing their personal negative opinions/views.
  • Recap on discussions, guidelines and ways forward, before concluding which will ensure that everyone is on the same page, when it comes to actions and responsibilities.

6 Steps for preparing for a meeting:

Step 1 – Identify desired outcomes

Step 2 – Decide if a meeting is really necessary (time is money, so if an email can have the same desired outcome, rather send an email.)

Step 3 – Invite the right people (you only want people who are directly involved to attend the meeting as these will be the required contributors)

Step 4 – Share / Request background information (go into the meeting prepared with all the necessary information relating to the topics at hand, such as data, statistics, etc.)

Step 5 – Create and share the agenda with all relevant parties

Step 6 – Anticipate and prevent problems (e.g. be aware of conflict concerns amongst people/departments and be ready to step in and control the situation in order to not interrupt your meeting)

Meeting Checklist

Have You?
Yes
No
Notes
Identified purpose of the meeting
 
 
 
Identified meeting objectives
 
 
 
Selected relevant participants and identified their roles in the meeting
 
 
 
Identified the decision makers and invited to meeting
 
 
 
Decided on logistics of meeting, such as when and where to hold the meeting
 
 
 
Confirm venue availability - book and confirm
 
 
 
If refreshments are required - check for eating requirements of participants and arrange catering
 
 
 
If special equipment is required - book or arrange that the equipment is available and setup before meeting starts
 
 
 
Sent out meeting request to all relevant participants together with when and where details
 
 
 
Prepare suggested agenda and then send out for approval and confirmation
 
 
 
Sent out finalized agenda to all meeting attendees
 
 
 
Sent out any supporting documents required for preparation of the meeting
 
 
 
Confirmed that all key participants will be attending the meeting
 
 
 
Prepared yourself
 
 
 
This basic meeting checklist will aid you in your preparations for your first meeting.
Example of Agenda Format
Example of Agenda Format | Source
Make sure you are prepared before you go into a meeting
Make sure you are prepared before you go into a meeting | Source

Step 1 – Identify desired outcomes

What are your desired outcomes (decisions, solutions, support, etc?)

  • If decisions have already been made, then the desired outcome would be to inform staff of what the decision was and how this would impact on them.
  • Brainstorming ideas to meet a particular business demand (i.e. improving customer services, improving on systems and processes, etc.)

Why are the outcomes important to the organisation, customers, suppliers or others?

  • Improve on client satisfaction and gain more business from them.
  • Improvements to systems or processes for your employees would make for faster delivery times, more proficiency and a better working environment.

What are the consequences of not achieving your desired outcomes?

  • Time wasted
  • Unhappy and frustrated parties
  • Business will not move forward to achieving desired outcomes.

Step 2 – Decide if a meeting is really necessary (time is money, so if an email can have the same desired outcome, rather send an email.)

Can you achieve the same desired outcomes equally well, without having a meeting?

  • No body enjoys long meetings, talking about the same things, over and over again.

Step 3 – Invite the right people (you only want people who are directly involved to attend the meeting as these will be the required contributors)

Consider inviting people who will:

  • Provide expertise, creativity or approval
  • Be directly affected by the meeting outcomes
  • Supply relevant information that you will need to decide on and take action
  • Carry out the decisions which will be made in the meeting
  • Offer relevant and vital input throughout the whole meeting

DO NOT inviting people who will:

  • Not be able to supply facts, information or expert advice on the meeting topics
  • Not be able to contribute towards decisions or actions that will need to take place

Step 4 – Share / Request background information (go into the meeting prepared with all the necessary information relating to the topics at hand, such as data, statistics, etc.)

  • What information are you able to share before the meeting to ensure that the attendees are well prepared for the meeting
  • Specialist information such as data and stats will assist attendee to make knowledgeable decisions

Step 5 – Create and share the agenda with all relevant parties

  • What topics are relevant to this meeting and what is the best logical order to discuss them in?
  • Who will be responsible for leading the discussion of the various topics?
  • How much time is realistically required for each topic slot? Is it necessary to provide a time limit? (It is not always necessary with less formal meetings, such as team meetings where open discussions will be held).
  • Always allow for a ‘general’ slot in the agenda where new topics/issues can be raised and discussed.

Step 6 – Anticipate and prevent problems (e.g. be aware of conflict concerns amongst people/departments and be ready to step in and control the situation in order to not interrupt your meeting)

Could someone with a strong opinion dominate the discussion or argue with other participants?

  • Are there any attendees that have a disruptive habit, such as:
    • Arrives late for the meeting
    • Who is never prepared
    • Who conducts side conversations
    • Continuously interrupts speakers with own views and opinions
    • Will any of the topics that you have on the agenda, take people by surprise or cause a negative reaction?

Example format for minute taking
Example format for minute taking | Source

How to run your meeting

The guidelines below provide you with a clear and practical structure on how you can conduct your meeting:

Steps for running a successful meeting
Steps for running a successful meeting | Source

1. OPEN

  • Welcome all participants to your meeting
  • Sometimes it is necessary to use some ice-breakers to help you ease the mood of the meeting and for everyone to feel comfortable to contribute freely.
    • Introduce yourself and your role in the meeting
    • Ask attendees how they are doing
    • Introduce new attendees to the other meeting participants
    • Explain what your desired outcomes are for the meeting and why it is important that the outcomes are met.
    • Review the topics on the agenda and mention the importance that the meeting runs according to the scheduled time-slots.

2. CLARIFY

  • Provide background information on the topics of discussion
  • Ask what other information, other attendees may have to share
  • Ask attendees if there are any other issues or concerns that they may have
  • Summarise for clarification

3. DEVELOP

  • Ask attendees for suggestions
  • Brainstorm solutions
  • Explore alternatives
  • Offer your own ideas
  • Get everyone involved in the development of solutions

4. AGREE ON ACTIONS

  • Select ideas or solutions that all participants agree with record the actions that needs to be taken. These will all need to be minuted during the meeting and meeting minutes will need to be distributed within 48 hours from the meeting.
  • Specify who will be responsible for the implementation of the actions.
  • Identify and document who will be providing support and what resources will be required to ensure that the actions are completed in a timeous manner.

5. CLOSE

  • Summarise all decisions and what the next steps are
  • Plan how to monitor the progress of actions / tasks
  • Remember to thank all participants

Ensure that all attendees participate in the meeting
Ensure that all attendees participate in the meeting | Source

Comments

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    • surveyequipment profile image

      Rich Sale 

      3 years ago from Sandy

      Very informative hub. I can't recall my first business meeting (as it was too long ago). But structure is certainly important.

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