Eight steps to manage meetings effectively

Here are eight simple steps to make your meetings more effective. There are some ideas offering some immediate help and there are some questions to help you generate your own.

  1. Clearly write down what do you want the outcomes of the meeting to be. First few times you really need to write down them on a paper. What do you want people to do at the end of the meetings? What do you want them to experience or feel? What do you want them to take away and act upon?
  2. Who would be your supporters in the meeting and who would possibly push back on ideas? What do you need to do to get buy-in? Sometimes, socializing an idea individually with the members will help get easy buy-in. Other times data will help. Often times, you may need to address the question: What is in it for me?
  3. What tools, techniques, methods and gadgets will help you in the meeting? Do you need projector, flip charts and writing paper? Do you prefer to have the participants bring their laptops or you want them to shut them down? Would you like brainstorming new ideas or validation of existing ideas? It is good to think through the best mechanisms that would make the meeting smooth and productive.
  4. What do you want to communicate prior to the meeting to the participants in addition to the logistics? Do want them to prepare before the meeting - think of ideas, read a paper, talk to someone etc.
  5. How are you going to kick off the meeting? The worst way to start a meeting is with announcements. The best way would be to share a story or an experience. Another way could be to congratulate an individual or celebrate a success. What will you do?
  6. How will you get everyone involved including the quiet members? Will you ask a question and go around? Will you group them in conversations? Best meetings are when most of the members are engaged in conversations asking questions, answering some and making observations.
  7. What is your back up pan if technology or techniques do not work? How will you still convey the key messages? What can you think of? It is good to keep notes, printed material, flip charts and cue cards as needed.
  8. How will you make the meeting useful to the participants? What do you need to do so that they members leave the room thinking it was worth their time? This is the key question and this will make the biggest difference. It is good to think of their needs, expectations and priorities in addition to yours, so that we make it a positive experience for all.
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