I have been attending lots of meetings recently. While staff and management meetings are important, often they can take more time than they should and are not always as effective as you would like.
Meetings should be planned out well before they occur. Start with a clear vision of how the meeting should progress and a list of topics that need to be discussed.
The length of the meeting
Decide on the amount of time the meeting should take based on the number of items you wish to discuss. Each topic should be allocated a certain amount of time. The meeting times (start and end) should be part of the agenda. Keep to those times.
Prior to the meeting request information from participants regarding topics they wish to include. Not all topics that are suggested may be suitable for that particular meeting, If these are things that merit the attention deal with them at another time or on an individual basis.
Opt for a meeting space that is comfortable, well ventilated and has plenty room for all the people invited to the meeting. If everyone is crowded, too warm or too cold the participants will be distracted. Providing a place for people to engage in a positive manner is more likely to lead to favorable outcomes.
Stay on topic
Certain discussions may bring up other topics that can lead to long and possibly irrelevant conversations. When this happens, bring the group back to the topics at hand.
Make a note of a the new topic for future discussion.
Cell phones and other devices should be turned off during the meeting. If it is necessary for staff members to add dates to their calendars, phone may be turned on for the last five minutes of the meeting when new dates are being discussed. Provide printed copies of the agenda for all participant
Leave time for conversation
Allow time for participants to air their views. Allow everyone who wants to speak the opportunity to do so but have a set amount of time for each person. This helps in a number of ways, it makes sure the meeting run on time and it helps staff focus on the most concise way to get their points across.
If the meetings have been run on a more relaxed timeline, it make take some effort to change attendees assumption of what is or isn’t acceptable. Keep going. Meetings will before more structured and effective.
A tip of the glass from me to you.