Keys to an Effective Meeting
Whatever kind of meeting, be it PTA, Cub Scouts, church, city council, board meeting, planning meeting - they should all be planned ahead of time with as much advance notice as possible. Things to keep in mind when planning your meeting are:
- An agenda
- The participants
- Date and start time
- Place and end time
The agenda should include the items to be discussed during the meeting. If it is a regularly-scheduled meeting, or a follow-up meeting, it should also include any unfinished business from the previous meeting. It is important to keep track of progress made from meeting to meeting by way of an agenda and/or keeping minutes. That way agenda items will not be repeated constantly.
Try to get the agenda out to the participants before the meeting. This will allow them some time to think about the items coming up, as well as give them a reminder of anything they were supposed to take care of between meetings. Having the agenda beforehand will lead to more insightful comments by the participants of the meeting.
Start on Time
Make sure to start your meeting at the time stated. This sets a standard, and shows that you respect your participants' time. This will also give them a clue that they need to be punctual because meetings that you hold will start on time.
Stay on Point
Make sure to follow the agenda that was prepared. It is very easy to get sidetracked into other conversations. This is when some gentle redirecting is in order.
"Those are all great points. I guess we are finished with that item, what is the next order of business on the agenda?" - Be very diplomatic without being condescending.
If participants are having side conversations during the meeting, try to ignore them. If you need to call a break and speak with them to the side, you should, but only in extreme circumstances. Otherwise, ignore them. Chances are other participants will give them the dirty look that you are wanting to give them but are resisting the urge to do so.
When appropriate, ask for and genuinely listen to participants' input. This, again, will show your respect for their opinions. If you have sent the agenda out early, more than likely people will have some very valuable input on the items.
Be sure to conduct yourself in professional manner. Even if you know all of the swear words, refrain from using them. Even if you are repeating something someone else said, your censor button should be pushed.
That goes for off-color jokes as well. Make sure that no racial slurs or put-downs slip out, either.
End on Time
Once again, this shows your respect for their time, and also shows your professionalism. Make sure to personally thank each of your participants for coming and for their input during the meeting.