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A Guide to Running an Effective Meeting: Part Two

By Demetrios Gianniris,
Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Welcome to part two of ‘How to Run an Effective Meeting.’ Below are some additional techniques for running an effective meeting. We also have a presentation that encapsulates all these great pointers.

Stay on topic
When conversation strays, your job as meeting leader is to rein it in and bring the discussion back to the items listed on the meeting agenda and/or meeting minutes.

Communicate results.
Even if you cover all your agenda items, results are the only real evidence of an effective meeting. The most effective method for tracking results is to wrap-up the meeting by discussing action items and communicating them via the meeting notes. At the next meeting, review your progress and make adjustments as needed. If no progress has been made, you may need to either reassess the purpose of your meeting minute item or step-up your efforts to hold participants accountable for their follow-up responsibilities.

Know that if you are running the meeting, you are running the meeting
Do not apologize or act apologetically. Do not give away your power. For the course of the meeting, YOU are in charge. Take charge. Speak clearly, be confident AND assertive, but also respectful to others. Know that your confidence and tone of voice alone is a big measurement of how your project is perceived, and how comfortable you are of the success of your project.

Keep the meeting flowing and avoid stumbling, mumbling, umming, or unnecessary pausing, as these reduce the participant’s confidence in your abilities.

Find your balance
Taking charge does not mean acting like a tyrant, but it does mean that you are the decision-maker except if, and when, it is the function of another officer to take over. Find a combination of business-like but not ogre-like demeanor that is appropriate for the situation and for your personally.

Acknowledge interruptions
And know that whether they are dealt with now or after current business is your decision…and stand firm on it. Some people have little tolerance for delay of gratification, and expect that their issues should be dealt with immediately. They can be acknowledged, and reassured that there will be a time for them, without allowing the order of business to be disrupted.

Do not tolerate side-talking
For some reason, some people believe that when they speak to their neighbor during a meeting, no one else can hear them. In fact, this behavior is both rude to whoever is legitimately speaking at the time, and is distracting to other participants in the meeting. It is the job of the person presiding over the meeting – not necessarily the person who is speaking at the time – to stop this.

Examples of appropriate comments at such a time include, “One meeting at a time, please.” “If this is urgent, can you take it outside, please?” “No side-taking allowed.” Another response can be for the speaker to stop speaking and simply look at the offenders while waiting for the side-talking to end before resuming the meeting’s official business.

End on time
It is common courtesy, and shows respect to those who may have other events scheduled based on the planned ending time of the meeting. On rare occasions or under exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to run late. This should not become a habit. Generally speaking, if participants commit to a certain time for the meeting, they should be able to count on it.


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