10 Steps to Running an Effective Meeting

Flickr Credit: Clagnut

After a recent “Meeting of the Executives” it became apparent that there are some ways that meetings could be ran much more effectively, and I wanted to share those with you. If you’re a nonprofit, you know the value of time, and you also know the value of a “meeting of the minds” to make sure everything is moving in the right direction.

Here are 10 ways to make the most of your meeting:

1.     Provide food and drinks

If it’s a morning meeting, provide bagels or donuts and coffee. If it’s a lunch meeting, provide lunch for the team, or make it a potluck if you don’t have the budget for it. People stop paying attention when they’re hungry and/or tired, so don’t allow that to happen.

2.     Send out a schedule the day before the meeting and have everyone agree on it

When you have everyone on the same page BEFORE the meeting, it makes the rest of it run more smoothly.

3.     Stick to the schedule!

Don’t allow people to go on tangents that aren’t of a productive nature. Everyone (or at least the “A-type” people) likes to say their piece, and many times it doesn’t move the meeting forward. Keep the topics, and the people, on track.

4.     Schedule enough time for discussions

Their WILL be discussions, so be prepared for it. Let everyone know when the discussions will be held so they refrain from trying to start one at their leisure.

5.     Control the conversation

This doesn’t mean that you should be talking most of the time, and in fact it’s the opposite. What this means is make sure that the conversation remains productive (no tangents) and that EVERYONE gets a chance to participate (not just the A-types).

6.     Listen more than you speak (truly listen)

Many people like to listen for what they either agree with or disagree with. Both are no good for the betterment of the team. Instead, listen for what their concerns are, listen for what they need, and listen for the underlying message they’re trying to relay.

7.     Allow people to be upset, angry, or frustrated (within reason)

This doesn’t mean that you should allow a negative person to bring down the mood of the meeting. It does, though, mean that if someone is really upset, it’s probably for a good reason. Find out what that reason is and handle it then and there. Chances are they aren’t the only one with that frustration/concern. Encourage group interaction and get everything out on the table.

8.     Have fun!

Play a short game, have a small contest or two, and keep the energy in the room alive.

9.     Encourage debate (as long as it’s healthy debate)

When the chairs start flying, that’s your cue that it’s time to step in! Kidding obviously, but healthy debate is where the necessary change comes in. Many minds are better than one. It’s science.

10. Make sure everyone had a chance to share their thoughts

Not just the people who typically control the conversation (you know who they are). Encourage the quiet ones to contribute SOMETHING, even if they don’t want to. Chances are good that they have something big to contribute (usually the quiet ones do).

What else would you recommend people do in order to run an effective meeting?


One Response to “10 Steps to Running an Effective Meeting”

  1. jeffreyfriend
    March 11, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

    My Dad read this post (thanks for the love Dad!) and thought that I should add one more. Coming from someone who was responsible for running the Western US for one of the Big 4 accounting firms, I think he has some #Klout – “Do not have a meeting just to have a meeting.” Plain, simple, concise – wouldn’t expect any less from him :-)

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