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10 Meeting Tips

Ally Yates provides ten tips for making meetings as successful as possible.

1. BE PRESENT AND AVAILABLE
It is well known that multitasking isn't effective, so don't sit in a meeting simultaneously doing your email. Lead the way and help the meeting be more productive, using a range of behaviours to improve the meeting's outcome.

2. BE THE GPS
Productive meetings are like smooth journeys. They are well signposted and make good time. Proposing an agenda is critical to providing structure and highlighting progress.

3. LEAD WITH QUESTIONS
Meetings get more than their fair share of 'blah, blah, blah'. Exercise skilful use of questioning to help people explore topics and develop a shared understanding. The mantra "Tell less, ask more, ask better questions" works here.

4. BUILD
'Building' is a behaviour that modifies or shapes an idea from another person - and yet it's rarely used in meetings. This is because it requires you to listen to the contributions of others rather than be preoccupied with your own thoughts, ideas and opinions.

5. ENSURE CLARITY
With a full agenda and the pressure of time it can be easy to lose track of what's being said. Help your colleagues and increase the chances of everyone leaving the meeting with a clear and shared understanding of the decisions, actions and accountabilities by summarising the key points, then asking questions to test people's understanding.

6. EXERCISE BALANCE
Skilful performers support and disagree in equal measure. Don't sit on your reactions - give your backing to a contribution as readily as voicing where you differ.

7. SHARE THE AIRTIME
No one likes a loudmouth. Equally, it can be frustiating when teammates don't speak in meetings. Bring in others by seeking contributions from quieter members.

8. MAKE YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS HEARD
Struggling to get a word in edgeways? Try a three-step process: 1)Indicate non-verbally that you wish to speak. 2)Label your behaviour by stating your intent (eg "I'd like to ask a question"). 3)Follow through.

9. MEASURE YOUR PROGRESS
Taking stock of the meeting afterwards can improve your improve your effectiveness and share accountability for making the meeting a success. Make time to review the pace (too fast or too slow?), process (clear or unclear?) and participation (shared or unequal?) and then make conscious commitments to improve your collective performance.

10. FACILITATE INSIDE THE MEETING, GUIDE OUTSIDE IT
If you have a vested interest, exercise your influence outside the meeting. Manage the tension between the content and the process. This is also a useful tactic for geographically dispersed teams - get people involved on the call, but give them your input and guidance before and after.

This article has been published with the permission of Ally Yates an independent consultant, facilltator, coach and author of Utter Confidence: How what you say and do influences your effectiveness in business (Panoma Press, 2017). Visit allyyates.com

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