How to lead an efficient and effective meeting
- Communicate the importance of attendance, participation, and punctuality. If key staff members don’t show up, cancel the meeting. If their absence has been approved in advance, have them delegate their decision-making responsibility to someone else in the meeting.
- Make sure all agenda items are aligned with your strategic plans, vision, mission, objectives, strategies, and actions.
- Place at least one strategic item on the agenda, so that the meeting will have at least one opportunity for elevated engagement.
- Distribute the agenda in advance and make sure each item is allotted time that reflects its importance.
- Stick to the agenda. When people stray from it (by broaching a new topic or by returning to a previously discussed one), rope them back in. Create a parking lot for issues to be discussed at a future meeting.
- At the end of each agenda item, summarize the discussion and future actions.
- Remain neutral. Your role is to guide and facilitate communication, not lobby heavily for one side.
- Encourage those who haven’t spoken to speak. Make it clear that their participation is both desired and expected.
- When individuals speak too often or too long, reflect back what you hear them saying, then ask to hear other perspectives. If need be, call a break and pull domineering members aside. Ask them to reduce their level of participation while maintaining their strong level of engagement.
- Break into small groups if the meeting is too large to give everyone ample time to speak. Have each small group come to a consensus and report back to the main group.
- Don’t over-refine a document as a group. Assign the task to an individual or small group, and review the changes at a later date.
- If the group needs more information to make a decision, assign the task to an individual or small group, and have them report back.
- Create visuals, like timelines, to reduce confusion.
- Move the group to definitive closure and ask for each participant to say out loud, “I agree.”
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