Copyright 2006 Dennis Sommer
Everyone participates in meetings or is the host of a meeting. Many are productive and others are a complete waste of time. We have developed a list of techniques for planning and holding effective meetings that will turn you into a top performer in your profession and organization.
1. Define meeting objectives. The meeting should have a specific purpose that you should communicate before you start.
2. Create an agenda. List what you want to discuss and who will lead those discussions. Put topics that require the most brain power first.
3. Do research before the meeting. Know the audience. Anticipate attitudes and positions. Speak the language of the participants.
4. Invite the right people. Invite individuals who can contribute to the meetings discussions and decisions.
5. Schedule breaks. Nobody can concentrate on a business meeting forever. Have a 15 minute break every two hours.
6. Open with a brief statement of the meeting purpose. Your statement should be short and to the point. Never express your opinions in the opening statement or participants will think they are only there to approve your ideas.
7. Lead the meeting. Many people are afraid of taking control. Everyone wants a leader and you should take charge of your meeting.
8. Start on time and finish on time. A perfect way to establish your control of a meeting is to start on time. Each item on the agenda should have a time limit. Stick to it religiously.
9. Make sure the meeting is formal. Stick to this rule and you will make decisions by a majority and not by loud vocal minority.
10. You decide who speaks. This way all opinions will be heard. You will be able to silence the domineering participants and draw out the silent ones.
11. Never lose control of the meeting.
12. Never take notes yourself. You will be able to deal with questions immediately rather than being distracted.
13. Provide written documents. At the meeting summarize the document, do not read it. Make sure the meeting is used to answer questions and make decisions. The meeting is not used to review what everyone already knows.
14. Document action items. Deal with issues one at a time. Document what items must get done before the next meeting.
15. Move quickly through topics. Do not stay too long with one topic or participants will begin to think nothing is getting done.
16. After a particularly dull meeting, assign one or more people to prepare arguments against the prevailing viewpoint for your next meeting on the same topic.