Conducting effective meetings at workplaces

Running an effective meeting is crucial to the function of any company or organisation. It grants a chance to organise, share information, collaborate with diverse team members, and tackle organisational problems efficiently as well as make decisions collectively.

guest column: Emmanuel Zvada

The true reflection of many meetings is that they are often derailed from their main focus, take too long, do not actually produce the change they intend to bring, and are actually where managers or superiors just tell their subordinates what to do and when to do it.

Why we need effective meetings is the question that needs to be answered first before delving into the crux of conducting effective meetings. Normally, when you manage and run your meetings it should be known that meetings are an investment. The reason behind that is that good meeting-management leads to worker participation and thus boost productivity as employees feel they are part of the organisation. It is through meetings that the organisation is able to get things done, anticipate and resolve existing issues in an organisation.

Have an agenda and clear objectives of the meeting

It is important to circulate a timed agenda with venue to all the expected participants and any supporting relevant documents before the meeting. The advantage of doing that is it will enable each participant to prepare and fully contribute to each agenda item. By so doing, you will have a result-oriented discussion and you will achieve a more focused collaborative discussion. Any meeting must have a specific and defined objective, clearly stating what needs to be accomplished and by who and when.

Holding a meeting without a set agenda is like getting into a sailboat and hoping the wind takes you where you want to go. Definitely, it will take you where it wants to go if you fail to direct it towards your own direction. This then means that your meeting agenda will guide you to your final destination.

Report previous minutes

The first point of any regular meeting that the chair should ask, is for those responsible with certain issues to report back on their progress from the previous meeting. This will stimulate action, responsibility and commitment, and encourage resolution of challenges in achievement of the action points, preceding to the next scheduled meeting. After reporting on the previous meeting, the chairperson of the meeting should set a specific meeting outcome. This is when the chair explains the expectations of the meeting as this will bring clarity and purpose. This is very crucial as it helps in evaluation and the measuring of success of the previously discussed and assigned responsibilities.

Stick to schedule, time

When holding meetings, you should be disciplined and start the meeting on time, regardless of attendance. This will help you run to time and encourage participants to arrive promptly at future meetings. Meetings should be brief and should only include relevant details for the agenda. It should be noted that even the best-planned meeting may end up boring and time consuming, especially if the discussion gets disrupted and diverges from the meeting agenda. Most of the meetings fail here. To avoid that, the chairperson should always be ready to redirect the participants to the agenda of the meeting. He or she is supposed to list down the main points to be discussed and stick with them, establish ground rules and a specified time portion for each item on the agenda list.

Encouraging and managing participant contributions

For meetings to be effective and interesting, participants should get to know each other. It is very crucial to encourage and stimulate discussion among participants. It is important in a meeting to ensure that everyone has had the opportunity to be heard. An effective meeting is where people are interested and engaged.

Summarise the agreed key decisions and actions

Tasks and action items are the most important outcomes of a meeting. Many a time people leave the meeting without clarity about what was agreed upon and who will do what and when. Sharing a summary of the meeting is very crucial as it gives direction and helps, especially when doing follow-ups for the next meetings. Doing the aforementioned is important as it helps to clarify and have the participants focused, enabling them to make clear decisions and move on.

Review the effectiveness of the meeting

At the end of the meeting, ask participants to review the meeting and how successful you have been at chairing. This can enhance future meetings as well as give you some great personal feedback and insights

For people to be motivated and actually interested in attending company meetings, you have to follow through during and after the meeting to check if you are in the same track. This means you are supposed to ask attendees’ feedback.

Give closing remarks and thank everyone

It should be a norm that at the end of the meeting, the chair is supposed to take no more than five minutes and go around the room and request closing remarks. Thank everyone for bringing their expertise and ideas in the meeting. This is important as it shows sense of team work and togetherness at work.

In the closing remarks, the chairperson, or participants may want to discuss the date and time for the next meeting, when the minutes will be available, or when a decision should be made.

Emmanuel Zvada is a human capital consultant and international recruitment expert. He writes in his personal capacity