Business effectiveness starts and ends with positive relationships. As a person responsible for multiple meeting groups, I have developed a set of guidelines that work well - whether managing a restaurant, retail store, office staff or church volunteer committee. By personalizing these concepts, you will conduct a meeting more effectively.
1. Have a plan and work it. Come to your meeting group prepared with a copy of the agenda for every attendee. You get what you model, so respect their time, intelligence and participation by bringing an agenda. Bring extra copies of the agenda in case unexpected visitors attend.
2. Clearly define expectations. Pamela Cournoyer, a meeting leadership coach, explains that each agenda item should be categorized into one of these zones:
a) Information: an announcement for information purposes only,
b) Discussion: for a later decision,
c) Decision: a decision is required today, or
d) Action: ownership and deadline details must be established today.
3. Start on time. Waiting for tardy attendees reinforces bad behavior and undermines business effectiveness. Start on time and don't repeat for the benefit of late participants. If someone insists on knowing what happened before they arrived (late), appeal to the group by saying something like, "I need some help here. Is there an agenda item we can agree to delete so we can go back to items 1 and 2, or should we just keep going?" Let the group help you corral your tardy attendees and insure that your meetings are effective.
4. Embrace the personality types of meeting group members. Acknowledge the verbal thinkers by giving them opportunities to voice their opinions while honoring deep thinkers by watching for the right moment to invite their input. Your quiet attendees are often ready to express their thoughts when they begin shifting, scowling or otherwise changing their body language. Gently ask, "Sue, what are your thoughts about this?"
5. Take notes, ideally on a computer with projector. The best of both worlds, this allows the secretary to take notes, display them to the meeting group simultaneously and keep your meetings effective both during and after the meeting.
6. End on time, and on a high note. Tackle your heavy topics at the beginning of the meeting, reserving a few lighter items for the end. Present awards, party invitations, bonuses and other good news just before dismissing the meeting group.
By incorporating these guidelines, you will not only be able to host more effective meetings, but you will be modeling, and thereby developing, good meeting leadership habits for every person in your meeting groups.
Marnie Swedberg is the owner and manager of a restaurant, retail store and espresso cafe. She also hosts websites generating millions of hits per year. Her Leadership Training materials are available at http://www.LeadershipAttitudes.com.