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How to Conduct and Participate in a Great Meeting

While I wouldn’t go so far as to say the meetings are critical to the success of every business, attending meetings and participating in a constructive way is an essential part of every workplace these days. Meetings just can’t be avoided. Therefore if you are the person conducting the meeting, it is even more important to know how to run an effective meeting so that you don’t loose 80% of attendees attention to social media and cat pictures.

Lots of employees and managers alike dread attending or conducting metings. Here are some of the myths or reasons why…

The Myths

Every meeting needs a powerpoint presentation. Taking notes is for secretaries. Meetings help people to share information and collaborate which is always time well spent. It desn’t matter if meetings run over time. Meeting should never run over time. This will just take a minute. Everybody has come prepared. An agenda means we all know what we are doing. It’s ok to just show up an listen. Turning up makes me a good employee/manager. No one can see me checking my phone under the table.

But this is the reality…

While we may dread a badly run meeting, meetings are part of business life. Sometimes they are simply to best and most effective way to get information and make decisions.

So: how can we make this easier? Well, here are HR’s top tips for conducting and participating in meetings.

Conducting Meetings:

  • Preparation is crucial for any meaningful meeting.

  • Write an agenda. Wait 24 hours if you can, then re-read your agenda to ensure you have addressed all the key topics.

  • Email the agenda out no less than 24 hours before the meeting so people can prepare.

  • Meetings are expensive, so choose who you invite with care so their contribution is worthwhile.

  • Book a room. If you don’t have an office, or it’s too small, book a dedicated place where you can talk privately and without intereption.

  • Unless you’ve been asked to scribe, laptops should be closed and phones should be off the table.

  • Start and end on time. Appoint a timekeeper if you think you’ll have time management problems. Or set an alarm on your phone if allocating people time limits during the meeting.

  • Take your own notes.

  • Manage the people who tend to dominate the conversation (time frames and ask for others opinions).

  • Get more people involved in the conversation (ask for others opinions).

  • Be effective rather than efficient if you can only be one of those things.

  • Make decisions and move on.

  • Cancel the meeting if its no longer needed.

  • Postpone the meeting if you or the majority of attendees aren’t prepared.

Participating in Meetings

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. Read the agenda provided beforehand. It’s respectful and considerate.

  • Go into the meeting prepared for a 2-way discussion

  • Actively listen to what others are saying. You hear your own voice enough.

  • Make notes

  • Meetings are expensive. If you’re not sure why you’ve been invited to attend, ask.

  • Don’t invite others into the meeting without checking first.

  • Unless you’ve been asked to scribe, shut that laptop and put that phone away.

  • Offer to timekeep if you think there’ll be time management problems.

  • Support others opinions & ideas, but only when needed.

  • Offer opinions and ideas when they are asked for.

  • Participate in the decisions made.

  • Cancel the meeting if you are under pressure and have a deadline to meet.

  • Ask to postpone the meeting if you aren’t prepared.

Tips for Success:

  • It’s not about who talks the most or the loudest. It’s actually about the outcomes.

  • It’s about getting stuff done. Meet, discuss, go away with answers!

  • Be nice. Nobody like a table thumper or aggressive behaviour.

  • There’s no point telling someone his or her idea is great if it isn’t. All you are doing is creating more work for yourself. They won’t understand what the problem is when you do have to explain why you’re not using their idea. Awkward…

  • Take notes. After several meetings, it's easy to get you details and ideas mixed up.

  • Keep it professional, keep it relevant and keep it quantifiable.

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