The 4 Criteria for Running Effective Meetings

By People Leaders | People Leaders Podcast

The 4 Criteria for Running Effective Meetings

There are good meetings and then there are not so good meetings - we practically spend most of our time in them these days. By following these simple steps, you can have a positive impact on people’s work lives and build your reputation.

The good meetings are engaging and leave you feeling as though you moved the team or the organisation forward in some way. The not so good meetings seem to last longer, some people never get to the point or repeat themselves. And let’s not even talk about not getting the introverts point of view heard!

Effective meetings have 4 basic criteria:

  1. They achieve what it is the meeting set out to do
  2. They leave participants feeling a sense of achievement and engagement
  3. They take the minimal amount of time and follow a sensible structure and process
  4. They have the right people in attendance

1. The meeting achieves its purpose

An effective meeting achieves its purpose. In order to do this you should be clear about what it is you want to achieve by having the meeting.

Too often, people call a meeting to discuss something without really considering what a good outcome would be or what it is they want achieved by bringing the people together.

  • Do you want a decision?
  • Is this a “catch up” to let everyone know what’s going on and what’s next?
  • Do you want to solve a problem?
  • Do you want to generate ideas?
  • Are you getting status reports?
  • Are you communicating something?
  • Are you making plans?
  • Are you learning something or sharing knowledge ?

To help you determine what the purpose of your meeting is, try completing one of the following statements:

  • At the end of the meeting I want people to say or know...
  • At the end of the meeting I want the group to... 
  • If my manager was to ask them what the meeting achieved. they would say...

2. Participants leave meetings with a sense of achievement and engagement

Once you know your purpose it is easier to create an agenda. It is always worthwhile circulating this to the participants in advance to ensure you have covered off all the important areas needed as you might have missed something. This also creates the opportunity for team members and participants to contribute.

During the meeting:

  • Make a point of asking participants to contribute by asking questions. Ask as many as is practical.
  • At the end of each agenda item, quickly summarise what was said, and ask people to confirm that it’s a fair summary. Then make notes regarding follow-up.
  • Note items that require further discussion.
  • Ensure the meeting stays on topic and if someone is dominating the conversation make sure others have an opportunity to speak. Running a meeting is not a dictatorial role: You must be participative right from the start.
  • Make a note of who is assigned to do what, and by when – take notes or get someone to take the action items and distribute within 24 hours of the meeting.

3. Meetings take minimal amount of time and follow a structure and a process

Don’t waste time, it’s a precious resource especially when there are multiple people involved.
We spend too much time in meetings already. You want to have a reputation as a leader who manages time well and by running a time efficient meeting you will be improving your reputation in this area.

Always make it a point to start the meeting on time or five minutes past at the most. Get agreement from the participants that you will start within 5 minutes of the scheduled time, in that way everyone has bought into the process. And don’t spend time recapping for latecomers – make this an agreement going forward.

Always finish on time and if you are running out of time say what you intend to do about it – defer to next meeting, have a smaller group meet, etc.

It is extremely important not to get side-tracked. If someone is hijacking the meeting or rambling you could say, ”is this the best use of our time at this point?”, or “we have x minutes left and so many agenda items to get through. Can we make sure we still get these covered off?”. “Is this best discussed offline to ensure our meeting stays on track?”

To ensure you cover only what needs to be covered and you stick to relevant activities, you need to create an agenda. To prepare an agenda, consider the following factors:

  • Results – what do you need to accomplish at the meeting?
  • Participants – who needs to attend the meeting for it to be successful?
  • Sequence – in what order will you cover the topics?
  • Priorities – what is essential?
  • Timing – how much time will be spent on each topic?
  • Date and time – when will the meeting take place?
  • Place – where will the meeting take place?

Use your agenda as your time guide.

4. The meetings have the right people in attendance

An important aspect of running effective meetings is ensuring you have the right people in attendance. We tend to make assumptions about who should attend. This could be a game changer for your meetings. A representative from another team with similar issues may be a good choice for the meeting’s objective. You might like to invite a key stakeholder to an update team meeting as a bridge building and information sharing opportunity.

Also, it is not always the manager who is the best person to attend the meeting – try and think laterally when sending out the invites.

Becoming known as someone who runs efficient and effective meetings can be a means to quickly build a positive reputation in your organisation. So, give it a go!!!

Becoming known as someone who runs efficient and effective meetings can quickly build you a positive reputation.

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