10 Essential Tips for Running a Meeting
Chances are if you’re in business, you can’t avoid meetings. Even if you’re not in the traditional business setting, life is full of these events, from parent-teacher conferences, to training and networking powwows, to social and faith-based events. With absolute certainty, by adulthood, you’ll have ample opportunity to perfect your meeting skills.
What’s the benefit of perfecting these skills, you might ask? Well, it’s pretty basic. For those hosting a meeting, you want to get your point across and pass along critical information. As an attendee, you want to avoid wasting your time and ensure you’re getting the most out of each event.
So in this first installation, Part 1, we’re discussing the best tips for running a meeting. Stay tuned for the best recommendations on attending one!
Running a meeting:
There are good meetings and bad meetings and typically the person running one is going to determine the difference between the two. Make sure you’re in the former group by:
1. Defining the objective. If you don’t know what your meeting’s purpose is, how can you expect your audience to? By setting a very clear objective, you’re more likely to achieve the outcome you’re looking for in the first place. Some questions to answer that will help set your objective include:
- What do I want the outcome to be?
- Passing on of information
- Making a decision
- Status reports
- What information do I want my attendees walking away with?
When sending out the meeting invite, be sure to include the objective so that every attendee knows why they were included and what will be expected of them.
2.Sticking to the schedule. There is no quicker way to frustrate and alienate others, especially at work with deadlines and responsibilities, than wasting their time. Your meeting should be outlined ahead of time and, even better, rehearsed, so that you know exactly how much time you will be requiring of your attendees.Make it your goal to not get derailed from the main objective. If rabbit trails pop up, or questions from your audience that require further investigation, hold another meeting with the required attendees only.
3. Inviting only the essentials. More than likely, you can think of a time you found yourself sitting in a meeting as it was wrapping up and realized “I wasn’t even needed here!” Unfortunately, in that instance, the person running your meeting did a poor job of curating their invitation list. When planning your meeting, make a list of only the essential attendees. If this includes other department heads and managers with employees beneath them, be sure to share the meeting’s objective ahead of time so they can consider who on their team should be in attendance.
4. Bringing required tools and materials. There’s nothing worse than going to an event that’s incredibly intricate with no materials to follow. It’s difficult to stay focused and understand fully what’s going on. As the host of a meeting, it’s your job to make sure your attendees have every tool they need to make this event successful. Whether that includes a full whiteboard presentation, an outline of topics to discuss, or helpful materials, be prepared by bringing these types of resources with you.
5. Taking notes. Questions are bound to be asked that will require more research, information, and communication from you. Just like your attendees, you should be either jotting down notes or recording the meeting in order to follow up further. This will help you tie up loose ends and ensure that no one is waiting on you for more details.
6. Sharing credit. While you may be the one who actually gets to hold the meeting, chances are if there are congratulations to be communicated or achievements to be expressed, you weren’t the sole person responsible for those things happening. If this is the case, be sure to give credit where it’s due. This makes your audience feel engaged and appreciated for their efforts.
7. Scheduling breaks. If your meeting is going to be long and jam-packed with information, it would be wise to schedule a few breaks here and there. Schedule short stopping points for people to get up, grab some water, stretch their legs, or use the restroom. Start your meeting back up right at the time you told everyone they should return.
8. Being specific and setting expectations. When you have action items that need to be completed by attendees, you need to communicate those expectations and determine together an appropriate deadline. Also, reconfirm any action items you have received during the course of your meeting and convey when the attendees should be expecting your follow through.
9. Closing. Every meeting should have a recap before closing. This will verify what’s been communicated, what is expected, and the next steps. Give your audience an opportunity to ask any questions and to clarify what is needed further from them.
10. Following up. If you need to, schedule a follow-up meeting where every action item is delivered and reviewed. Otherwise, you can follow up via email with certain individuals responsible for particular parts moving forward in order to save others’ time. Even if your meeting doesn’t contain deliverables, it’s still important to follow up afterward. Many people can take different things away from important meetings, so it’s a good idea to send out an email re-highlighting the agenda and what was discussed.
What are your most savvy tips for running a meeting? There’s sometimes a very fine line between and good meeting and a bad one, and with these tips, you’re sure to knock your next one out of the park!