Leading an Effective Meeting

by margaret turner

Did you know that the confidence shown by a meeting leader in the first 30 seconds is usually an indication how successful the meeting will be?

How about the difference between leading and facilitating a meeting?

Me neither. I thought I had a pretty good sense of what makes an effective meeting until I read a piece by Evan Thompson in the Globe and Mail.

Like me, you’ve attended lots of meetings and probably have a sense of what makes a meeting work. The big one for me is showing respect for the participants’ time, which means starting and ending the meeting on schedule, being prepared and staying on topic. Good meetings have objectives, and a process for follow-up.

But I hadn’t thought of leading a meeting as an opportunity to practice leadership skills such as motivating participants, sharing information, providing direction on key issues, mentoring and even refereeing if necessary.

Here’s his list of tips for leading a successful meeting:

  1. Be ready: give people lead time of the meeting’s time and topic
  2. Be organized and prompt: have an agenda, and start and end on time
  3. Be serious, even if it’s a sunny Friday afternoon, and take the meeting seriously
  4. Be confident in your initial greeting, and start by stating three key objectives and the duration of the meeting
  5. Be productive: Thompson has tips to help you keep everyone on topic and generating good ideas
  6. Be focussed: you deserve participants’ full attention. Suggest that side conversations be saved till after the meeting
  7. Be fair, and don’t let strong personalities dominate the meeting
  8. Be inclusive, and engage all participants
  9. Be sure someone takes notes
  10. Summarize the next steps (what, who and when) before the meeting ends

Do you meet all of these points in your meetings currently? If not, try to implement those you have been missing and let us know how it goes!