Too many meetings in the diary? Make them effective!
22nd March 2010
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There are three challenges we have to deal with during a meeting: dealing with conflict, keeping everyone energised and managing information.These are issues that can cause time spent in meetings to be much less productive.

After researching the issue for some time in order to make the business life of our clients more efficient – here’s some practical advice to lessen the impact:

    * Talk privately with each of the individuals to plan an agenda that steers     clear of hot topics;
    * At the beginning establish rules agreed with everyone;
    * Use large displays to record what is said in the meeting;
    * Remain positive at all times, allow all contributions to be made.

People’s energy varies through the day. However energy levels may also be low due to the style of the meeting. Using the same approach over and over again will stifle a meeting e.g. endless presentations:

    * Minimise presentations, set (and adhere to) time limits;
    * Use wall charts to share information with blank spaces for people to complete information during the meeting;
    * Change the format – sessions, group discussions, small group discussions, pairs, individual thinking time;
    * Give people the opportunity to talk;
    * Use energisers.

Managing information can be as much of a challenge as managing people. If we didn’t need to share or jointly create data and ideas there would be no need for getting people together at all. Getting this right can make a huge difference to the success of a meeting.

If you capture the information in real time during the meeting, it will make your meetings a lot more productive. Why?

    * People can see that they have been heard. This encourages participation;
    * All the information is visible together;
    * Agreements are much more likely to stick to;
    * Gives people an opportunity to speak up if there are still issues to resolve;
    * Focuses the attention of a group and gives a focal point for discussion.

Think in advance of your follow up documentation. Having the right outputs produced after a meeting can do a lot to support the ongoing follow-up of actions afterwards. Assign someone to prepare minutes, record action points and track the completion.

So, to conclude – our Top tips for information management:

    * Plan how you will manage the information before, during and after a meeting;
    * Think about different ways you could handle the information;
    * Minimise the use of PowerPoint;
    * Maximise the use of wall charts;
    * Use the group to help with recording the meeting.

Before anything else, ask yourself:  ‘why do we need a meeting?’ Once you’re clear about the actual reason for holding the meeting you have a great foundation on which to build up. Also don’t forget that meetings can be held online using webinars.


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About the Author

Tamara B

Member since: 8th May 2012

I'm a Virtual Assistant offering secretarial, book-keeping and social media marketing services to small businesses and self-employed professionals. I design and write e-newsletters, blogs, websites and...

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