What Every Manager Should Know About How to Conduct Successful Meetings

Do you announce a meeting and find either no one shows up on time, they come with their own agenda, or the meeting goes on and on? If this is true in your case, then worry no more.

Here are six steps to help you develop successful meetings:

1. Establish a realistic and specific objective. Ask yourself, "What do I want to accomplish?" or "Why am I calling people together at this time?"

Do I want:

* to solve problem(s).
* to inform.
* to orient.
* to gain feedback.
* to give feedback.
* to motivate.
* to reward.
* to buy. or
* to sell.

Next, decide the best mode to accomplish your objective. Decide which best suits your needs:

* a conference with panel(s) of speakers?

* a half-day workshop? Or a full-day seminar?

* a staff meeting that includes your immediate staff?

* a staff meeting that includes your department or division?

* a staff meeting that includes everyone from all levels of the entire organization?

2. Create a well-developed agenda. Review your agenda before announcing your meeting. Make sure it avoids:

* spending too much time on details technical subjects. (It puts people to sleep and does not communicate with them.)

* failing to specify the starting and ending times. (Employees need to know when to be there, when it is expected to start, and when it is expected to be finished so that can reschedule their other duties and responsibilities.)

* adding irrelevant topics. (Doing so only lengthens the meeting time and serves to anger people or put them to sleep.)

* having speakers or presenters who are known to ramble. (One of the surest ways to put your audience to sleep is to have a boring meeting with speakers or presenters who talk on and on. This is especially true in cases where the agenda covers technical or scientific material.)

* crowding the agenda with too many subjects. (It is better to have a question and answer period during the meeting than to try to cover everything.

Now review your agenda and make sure you have included:

* a chairperson or Master of Ceremonies to move topics along without rushing the presenters, or allowing them to ramble.

* general logistics before hand, such as restroom locations, break times, and telephone or walk-in interruptions.

* a priority system so that the most important topics or pressing matters are covered first.

3. Assign particular responsibilities. Be sure to select responsible people to carry out the responsibilities of your meeting. Also be sure:

* to match the topics and tasks with competent presenters.

* to give them clear, complete, and specific instructions including assigned time to complete their presentation.

* to gain the concurrence of your key participants.

* to have a clock in clear view of the presenters.

* to start on time, regardless. (This is perhaps the most important aspect of running a successful meeting.)

4. Establish a positive meeting environment. Take the time to plan your meeting. Perhaps the most important aspect to consider is the environment where you will hold your meeting. To insure its success, be sure you:

* create an environment that is conducive to effective communication.

* set start and ending times that are conducive to all.

* develop the environment around a theme.

* consider the objective of the meeting when selecting the room.

* consider decorating the room, if this is warranted.

* arrange and test the audio-visual support before hand.

* arrange the seating of participants and attendees, depending on the estimated number of attendees.

* arrange the seating plan for optimal effect.

5. Plan all the activities. Take the time to plan and plan again all the events, people, places, and things related to the objective and theme of the meeting. Be sure to:

* gather input where relevant.

* take notes where necessary.

* prepare adequate quantities of handouts.

* prepare to post adequately the announcement of the meeting along with its agenda, times, participants, and any other relevant information.

* prepare backup materials.

* prepare post-meeting evaluations, where necessary, and summary handouts.

Remember: When you maximize your potential, every one wins. When you don't, we all lose.

Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in ezines, newsletters, and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required. Contact him at: executiveandgroup-consulting@yahoo.com when you use this article.

Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW, Management Consultant and Trainer, conducts lectures, seminars, webinars, and writes articles on his theme: "... helping you maximize your potential." He offers management, marketing, and parenting resources at his Maximizing Your Potential blog.

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