5 Steps to Leading Effective Meetings

Do you look forward to meetings as something that helps you do your job? Do you usually accomplish the objectives you set out to achieve during the meeting? If not, perhaps there is a better way to approach meetings.

Different Types of Meetings

  • Ongoing Staff Meetings
  • Series of Project Team Meetings
  • Strategy and/or Planning Session
  • Brainstorming Session
  • Problem Solving Meeting
  • Decision Making Meeting
  • Status and Follow-Up Meetings

Tips for Leading Effective Meetings

1. Don’t Try to Do Too Much at Once

Be clear about the goal of the meeting and don’t try to cram conflicting objectives, irrelevant projects, or too many discussion points into one session. For example, if you hold weekly staff meetings and your staff is involved with multiple projects, don’t discuss the details of projects in that meeting unless it is brief and applicable to everyone. When things take a turn off track, “take it offline,” discuss after, or schedule another time to discuss.

2. Lead with a Partner

Not that you should never lead a meeting solo, but working with a partner can help you lead the meeting more effectively. You’ll have a second perspective, and you’ll have the advantage of an additional communication style that can extend your influence.

3. Start with an Agenda and Stick to It

Take ten minutes before the meeting and think about what you want to accomplish. Then take the first two minutes to communicate what the meeting should accomplish. At the halfway point, review the original goal, what has been discussed, and what must be covered before you can adjourn.

4. Are the Right People There?

One huge time waster is making the case for a certain course of action when the decision maker is not in the room.  This is different from debating the pros and cons of making a certain decision (especially if people disagree, which can be quite productive) or getting team support before approaching the decision maker. But if the team needs a decision or approval before further action can be taken, call the meeting short, get the approval, and then get together again to resume planning.

5. Finish with Action Items

You’ve called a meeting, everyone showed up, you stayed on track, you discussed important things… now what? What happens next is quite possibly the most important part of the meeting, but often we all quickly go our separate ways before closing the loop. Write down an overview of what happened, key learnings, and next steps. Email out to all who attended, if appropriate. If someone committed to doing something, put it in writing and follow-up.

Eva Rykrsmith

Eva Rykrsmith is an organizational psychology practitioner. Her passion lies in bringing a psychology perspective to the business world, with the mission of creating a high-performance environment. Follow her @EvaRykr.

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