Being a good communicator is an essential quality of a great leader. A large proportion of a leader’s time is spent in meetings so it is vitally important that a leader is able to conduct effective meetings.
Here are five simple techniques that can be applied straight away to have more effective and productive meetings. While most of these may be well-known or quite common techniques, the key question here is; “Are you applying these?”
- Get everyone present and focused at the start of the meeting. It is very common for people to have multiple priorities at any given time so it should not be a surprise if people in meetings are unfocused or scattered. Unless everyone becomes centred and focused solely on the meeting at hand, the chances are high that the meeting won’t be as effective as it could be. Here is a powerful question that can be asked at the start of every meeting to get everyone focused and present. It can take a couple of minutes to do this and that will time well worth investing at the start of a meeting.What do you need to say in order to be fully present during this meeting?Responses can range from, “I’ve got over 100 unopened emails” or “I am struggling to meet my deadline for a project.” By being able to acknowledge and voice what is currently top of mind, it allows people to be able embrace the activity at hand. The follow-up question the leader can then ask is:
Would you now be willing to be fully present during this meeting?
This is one of the most effective techniques I know for setting the stage for a great meeting.
- Have an agenda to follow. This is not a “nice to have” – it is a “must have!” Formal meetings hold not proceed without an agenda. It may not be practical to have an agenda if a leader or manager is speaking with someone on the shop floor or out in the field. However, all formal, sit-down meetings must have an agenda, which clearly outlines what will be discussed, what the intended outcomes are for each agenda item, and who is responsible for either leading or providing an update for the agenda items. It is also important that agendas are sent out to all attendees before the meeting so they know what to expect and what they need to prepare for the meeting.
- State the intended outcome at the start. There has to be a purpose for every meeting. It is the leader’s responsibility to let everyone attending know why the meeting is being held and what is expected as a result of the meeting. It can simply be stated as, “The purpose of our meeting today is to…”Having a clear outcome in mind will certainly help everyone stay focused on what needs to be done to reach that outcome.
- Document any decisions made. Having a history of what was discussed and decided is important. This will help if someone was not able to attend the meeting or if there is any misunderstanding on what needed to be done or was decided. At the start of any meeting, someone should be assigned as the minute taker. It will be even better if this is confirmed before the start of the meeting. Once the meeting is over, the minutes must be distributed as soon as possible, usually within a couple of days or before, so the participants can review what they need to do now.
- Assign actions steps with deadlines. If action steps are not assigned at the end of meetings, the whole meeting may have been a complete waste of time. Let’s face it. Why have a meeting unless something is going to be done as a result of the meeting? Each action step should be assigned to a person and have a due date. That way, the leader or manager has a clear measure for holding everyone accountable. An important action step at the end of each meeting is to set the date and time for the next meeting. This is the leader’s responsibility.
These five simple, yet powerful techniques, can assist any leader in running effective and productive meetings. Effective meetings are a sign of good communication which will ultimately is a sign of good leadership.
Question: What are some other techniques that are necessary for effective meetings?
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