To briefly summarize parts one through three:
1 Effective meetings require planning and structure. They don’t just happen.
2 It’s important to think through the purpose or desired outcome of the meeting, and determine if a group meeting will accomplish it.
3 If a group meeting is necessary, the leader should identify who should attend.
4 The next step is to communicate the purpose of the meeting along with an agenda to the attendees.
5 At the beginning of the meeting:
-restate the purpose of the meeting
-ask for any questions about the purpose of the meeting
-review the agenda and ask if there should be any changes or additions
-note the available time
-Define or review ground rules for the meeting
Let’s continue our discussion.
Meetings typically have common pitfalls and traps that turn a well-intentioned meeting into a waste of time. One very common pitfall or trap is the one where short discussions turn into lengthy meetings with little results. In the first part of this series I told you the story about the Grand Rapids meeting. Although the meeting was supposed to provide meaningful interaction between the facilitator and the participants it did not happen. The meeting became lengthy because it had not been thought through and organized in advance.
-Prepare and organize in advance. Prepare a checklist of what is required for the meeting (participants, equipment, location, materials, etc.).
-Stay focused on the purpose of the meeting and what must be accomplished.
-Follow the agenda and maintain the proper relationship between agenda topics and time available.
-Distinguish between valuable discussion and discussion that’s not. Is the discussion focused on the purpose of the meeting and the agenda items? If it is then its probably valuable, but make
participants aware of time limits and constraints so they can assist in limiting the discussion. This is a difficult skill to learn, but it will improve with the leader’s knowledge of the topic and the leaders experience in facilitating meetings.