Meetings that Go Nowhere

Have you ever attended a meeting where nothing was accomplished? A meeting where only a few of the people who attended actually talked? A meeting without established timelines that seemed to drag on hours longer than needed?

At some point, it’s likely you will be asked to facilitate a meeting either at work or at an association outside of work. Will the meeting you facilitate be appreciated or dreaded? We can help you with that. There are five key points that everyone who runs a meeting should follow. Yes, they might sound basic, but each improves the process, outcome, and experience of the meeting. And those attending will appreciate it too!

  1. Have an attitude of respect. It has been said that whatever goes on in your head consciously or unconsciously comes out in your actions. Enter the meeting with the attitude that you will be respectful in thought and action and that you will put a stop to any disrespect shown by others. Demonstrating disrespect is one of the fastest ways to shut people down and for others not to contribute – and can make your meetings much longer than they need to be.
  2. Communicate the purpose of the meeting. No, we’re not referring to the list of topics on the agenda. Often, a meeting gets off track right away because we focus on the agenda rather than the purpose. Make sure everyone in the room knows why you are there before you begin.  Document the purpose on the agenda and state it at the beginning of the meeting.
  3. Finish one topic/issue before moving on to the next. Frequently, discussions progress from one agenda topic to the next without summarizing the decision and gaining consensus.  People have difficulty determining whether anything was decided or whether it was simply a discussion. The summary will allow people to take action and prepare them for the next topic.
  4. Give everyone an opportunity to participate. If one or two people are dominating the conversation, ask others for their opinion. You may need to use several questions to get others to participate. When others don’t get a chance to participate, they tune out of the meeting or disengage from decisions made.
  5. Create a plan of action. Here’s where you take action: summarize the decisions, determine actions that need to be taken, assign responsibilities, and set target dates.

It always takes time to generate a comfortable flow in your meetings. But if you follow these steps, it’ll be much easier to get people to participate. Meetings will be appreciated instead of dreaded!

Do you want to make meetings more effective? Watch this!