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9 steps to organize and lead a useful and productive meeting

by gaetano
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effective meeting management

Meetings are real management tools both at work and private: neighborhood meetings, fractional meetings, family meetings, meetings of condominium, business meetings, parent meetings, etc. .
It is not simple to organize an effective meeting and obviously it can’t be improvised. Here are 9 simple steps to organize and lead a useful and productive meeting . Tips and tricks to get the best results from your meetings.

Types of meetings.

There are various types of meetings , depending on the purpose that they have.

Decision Meeting
It is the meeting in which you take decisions, in which you have to make choices. Every choice involves at least two alternatives to choose from, so at least two proposals must be submitted in the meeting.
The instruments used are mainly the Decision Making and the Pareto diagram .

Analytical Meeting
In this kind of meeting we analyze the phenomena, we must look for the causes of the problems and then their solutions.
The methods and tools used are the Problem Solving, Brainstorming techniques, stimulation of creativity, the Cause and Effect diagram.

Coordination Meeting
It is the meeting made with the staff members for organizational purposes.
In this kind of meeting there is a two-way communication and information exchange takes place between all the participants.
You use the debates, interviews and business planning tools (Gantt) in order to exchange views with the others.

Training/Information Meeting
It’s the typical meeting in which communication is one-way. The tenant provides the information, concepts, or instructions to the participants.
Among the most commonly used methods are the conference and play rolling.

Motivational Meeting
The main purpose of this meeting is to motivate team members and to enhance team spirit.
It is possible to use techniques of Outdoor training and resources involvement.

When a meeting is appropriate or necessary

The meetings may be called for various reasons, the main ones are:

  • to give or seek information
  • to solve problems
  • to generate ideas
  • to take decisions
  • to define action plans
  • for clarification
  • to negotiate
  • to create and strengthen the team
  • to improve relations between people
  • to take stock of the situation .
  • 1st phase

9 steps to organize, convene and conduct an effective meeting

1th phase
decide whether the meeting is required and then define the work plan, the purpose and the objectives to achieve.
Draw up an agenda of topics.
Plan the structure of the meeting, choosing the most appropriate time of the day, defining its duration and its temporal distribution.

2nd phase

define the details of the various topics that will be addressed and any liability to assign.

3rd phase
establish and convene the participants in advance through formal invitation, trying to limit the number only to people who can give a contribution.
Make sure you have all the expertise available and necessary to solve the problem. If necessary, you can ask a colleague or other participants who invite to the meeting.
Provide participants with all the useful and necessary information, such as:

  • reasons, purpose and objectives of the meeting;
  • date,
  • starting time ,
  • duration and end time,
  • place,
  • well-defined topics (agenda).

4th phase
ask participants to prepare on topics and points of relevance.
It’s better to write the topics in the form of questions, in order to facilitate troubleshooting.

5th phase
Start the meeting with phrases and opening arguments which have the aim to break the ice.
Sum up the reasons for which the meeting was convened and explain the purpose and the goals you want to achieve. Then, introduce the participants to the topics of the agenda and their time  distribution.

6th phase
conduct the meeting respecting timing, distribution and duration for each topic.
Avoid as much as possible the disruption of the meeting with phone calls, external visits, etc..
Make sure that all participants have their say, encouraging those who have not expressed their opinion.
Making brief summaries during the meeting, summarizing concepts and ideas expressed.
To make sure that everyone understood the concepts expressed by a person, it is appropriate that the driver of the meeting will also summarize them in his own words.

7th phase
this phase is often underrated and overlooked but it is one of the most important.
Make a summary of the main topics and list the conclusions of the meeting, and arrange action  plan.
Among the most common mistakes committed by those who lead the meetings, there is the lack of definition of a work plan.
Often, because of the lack of time or tiredness and loss of attention from the participants and the conductor, you forget or do not have the ideas clear enough to define and draw up an action plan.
A meeting without an analytical decision or action plan can not be effective .

The arranged action plan should include:

  • who
  • do
  • what
  • by when

It must be clear who should do what and possibly to those who respond.
The objective of the meeting is also to make sure that all participants push in a single direction, that is in the shared direction.

8th phase
even this phase is often underestimated .
Realize the minute of the meeting with details and decisions, conclusions and action plans, and then distribute it to all participants and other persons who may be affected by the decisions or the  conclusions of the meeting.
The minute should be distributed within 2 days.

9th phase
this is the stage most certainly neglected and forgotten but it is very important.
Each meeting that call for an action plan has to be followed by another meeting which allows to take stock of the situation, to check the progress of the work plan and to ensure the effective achievement of objectives, according to the principle of the Deming wheel or PDCA.

This follow-up or feedback allows us to understand the goodness of the defined action plan and ensure its implementation by the participants.

Additional tips and suggestions to make meetings the really effective working tools

It’s important that the chosen location is suitable for the type of meeting you want to do and that the seating arrangement allows all participants to see each other.
The lighting and any supporting material must be appropriate to the topics discussed .

All major points of interest should be recorded by both by the tenant and the participants.
If the driver of the meeting has the main rule in the discussion, it is appropriate that there is another person with the task of note-taker.
During the meeting, it is necessary to make some brief summaries in which you summarize the main points, the concepts and ideas expressed. In this way all participants will have the opportunity to line up on the same point.
At the end of the meeting, before closing and dismissing participants, should always be done a general summary.

The smooth conduction of the meeting states that the tenant is able to create a relaxed atmosphere, especially in the initial phase.
With an informal and non-judgmental climate it is easier to obtain the active participation of the people. It’s important to avoid to criticize and ridicule the ideas of the participants. You should encourage interventions, stimulate creativity and seek balance between all the thinking.
All views must be tolerated , as must be upheld objections and criticisms from the participants.

The control of the meeting must be always kept, avoiding irrelevant arguments, digressions, overly animated discussions or unnecessary discussions. Also the questions that do not lead to any satisfactory conclusions must be limited.
It’s also important that the discussions are not monopolized by a few people and that people do not interrupt with each other.
Everyone should be able to express his ideas that need to be rationalized and synthesized by the tenant.
Sometimes it is necessary to assume positions of provocation in order to push the reflections in depth.

The key thing is however that those who announce a meeting has very clear in mind the purpose and so, where he wants to get to go.
If this is not clear, the meeting becomes a chaos, considerations and actions of the participants lead it from side to side and the meeting ends without a conclusion.
The lack of clarity on where you want to go lead to the participants are committed to defend their ideas and their positions instead of working together in a single direction in search of a solution.

Assessment checklist

Especially in the early stages, to understand and evaluate the goodness of a meeting, you can use the following check list of questions to ask yourself and to the participants:

  • Are the purpose and objectives of the meeting clear?
  • Did you defined the agenda?
  • Did you give information on the location, date and duration?
  • Am I prepared on the issues?
  • Did you give the opportunity to all participants to make a contribution?
  • Did the meeting begin and on time and ended on time?
  • Do you need that all participants have to be there for the entire duration?
  • Does the meeting focus on the subjects defined only?
  • Were all decisions consistent and clear?
  • Was it clear who should do what?
  • Did you defined the deadlines for implementing the actions defined?
  • Was the minutes of the meeting prepared and distributed?

Image: freedigitalphotos.net

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