Problems of Effective Meetings
Managing Meeting Problems
If you are called upon to chair meetings, you will doubtless encounter some common problems that occur when any group of people get together. While these problems are common, if they are left unmanaged, they will cause long term problems. Unmanaged meeting problems will result in wasted time, frustration, and a general dread of attending meetings in which these problems occur unchecked.
Before we discuss some strategies for addressing these common problems, one basic approach needs to be stressed. Make sure that there are agreed-upon roles and processes for the meetings. That is, it must be clear to all attendees what is expected in terms of behaviour, and how breeches of these expectations will be dealt with. One critical role that MUST be defined is that of the chair. Attendees and the chairperson must be on the same wavelength.
We suggest that a group that meets on a regular basis establish meeting parameters, roles and chairperson authorities early in their life cycle. We also suggest that the group revisit these parameters periodically to see if they are working, or need revision.
Remember that when roles and authorities are not clear from the outset, meetings can deteriorate into procedural wranglings" that are largely unproductive. Get the roles clear from the beginning so that you will not have to deal with them in each and every meeting.
Some people are naturally long-winded. They talk a lot. Unfortunately, long-winded people can monopolize meeting time, and turn off other meeting participants.
If you are chairing a meeting with long-winded people in attendance, you need to take some action. The general rule to any intervention is to start with the most subtle or mild approach, and then increase "force" as required.
Try using a non-verbal "stop sign". One common one is holding up one's hand, palm outward towards the speaker. Generally, this will be better received