Conducting Effective Meetings
| Contributed by Gillian KayeEdited by Bill Berkowitz
| What are effective meetings?
Why do you need effective meetings?
How do you run effective meetings?
Phase 1: Planning the meeting
Phase 2: Setting up the meeting
Phase 3: Running the meeting
Phase 4: Following up on the meeting
What are effective meetings?
Sometimes it seems as if we're always meeting. We have our regular monthly organization meetings, special task force meetings to work on, urgent actions, and committee meetings for projects our group has taken on. Meetings take up so much of our time because they're the way we make our decisions, plan our actions, and move the work we are doing along. But how many of us hate meetings? We all of have memories of meetings (maybe even last night's committee meeting) that seem to last forever and no decisions ever get made. Someone kept interrupting and moving everyone off of the agenda, the chair had too many of her own opinions, the meeting ran overtime, and by the time it was over, everyone went home tired and unsatisfied. Well, while there's no magic wand to make every meeting more effective, meetings can really help in decision making and planning. They don't have to be painful. They can even be fun. And you can learn how to make your meetings both useful and enjoyable for everyone there. Effective meetings help your group reach its goals. Why do you need effective meetings?
Did you know that how you manage and run your meetings is one of the biggest "risk factors" for participation and member investment in your organization? ALL of the parts of a meeting are important--planning (especially thinking through agendas and goals); logistics; and chairing skills and principles. All of these parts impact on member participation and involvement. Each "phase" needs to be paid attention to and taken seriously because good meeting management is critically linked to participation. It is through meetings that the group is or is not able to get things done, solve problems, manage itself in a way that promotes inclusion and safety, and creates a sense of community. How do you run an effective meeting?
Running or chairing a meeting means more than just moving the group through the agenda. When you chair a meeting, you are responsible for the well-being of the group and the members in it. That demands a certain amount of attention be paid to "group dynamics" and other process issues. All of that "touchy feely" stuff is important! Remember: Running meetings is a SKILL, not something you are born knowing how to do. Just as with any skill, you will get better with practice--and more confident, too! When someone says, "Nice job. That was a good meeting," what do they really mean? A truly good meeting happens when attention is paid to the four phases of meeting management: * Planning for the meeting (Agenda and goals)
* Setting up the meeting (Logistics)
* Running the meeting (Chairing/Facilitating)
* Following up (After the meeting ends...)
Let's begin with:
Phase 1: Planning the meeting
If you pay attention to planning your meeting, you can avoid the "meeting killers" like: * Wasting meeting time
* Wasting people's time
* Boring meetings that go nowhere
* Meetings for meeting's sake
Here are the critical steps in planning a great meeting.
1. Decide the goal of the meeting.
Is it to revise the by-laws, plan volunteer recruitment, or something else? No clear goal? A boring and unfocused meeting may result! Come up with a clear goal and the agenda becomes your road map to getting there. 2. Do your homework!
If you need information or research for the meeting, better have it done before the meeting starts. What happens when you show up at a meeting where important information is missing? It's usually a big waste of time! 3. Decide who needs to be there.
If you are working on a billboard campaign, does the whole membership need to attend...
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