8 Tips - How to Host Effective Meetings

tips on how to have the most effective meeting - blog post by TheVenueShop.comThere are good meetings & there are “bad”. The bad drone on forever, never seem to get to the point, with you left wondering why you were even present. Effective ones will leave you energised, feeling you've really accomplished something. If you're responsible for meeting planning as part of your role, consider these tips for organising meetings participants actually value & look forward to.

So what does a "bad" meeting look like?
A wasted morning or afternoon where nothing actually gets decided or actioned. Could it be that there are too many people who aren’t required, only invited for “political” reasons? Not to mention the distractions… the gravitational pull of your phone & ever increasing to-do list, or a colleague waiting for the meeting to be over to get to another one!

Make your objective clear
Many unproductive meetings have no real purpose or objective. A purposeless meeting can result from too much routine (“But we’ve always had this Tuesday afternoon meeting!”) or too much spontaneity resulting in a hastily put together idea with an ill-defined goal. Take the time to figure out the point of calling a meeting by asking yourself or your boss what exactly you want to walk out the door with. Also, stop to evaluate whether a group meeting is the best way to get to your goal. Too many meetings could have been a memo, email or even a voicemail message.

Consider who is invited
Each person sitting in on your meeting represents money spent by the company for overhead. Most of the time it’s a no-brainer & your list of usual suspects is the right mix, however, sometimes it pays to go through the invitees one by one & consider if that individual needs to be there to contribute, brainstorm, or act as an information conduit.

Follow your agenda
Before the actual meeting begins, send out a detailed agenda of the topics to be addressed & how long you plan to spend on each topic. During the meeting itself, be sure to stay within the boundaries of your agenda. It’s imperative that you enforce this rule on the first few items because once you go over a time limit you set, your attendees get the message that anything goes. After being a “Time Nazi” a few times, your attendees will soon start to get the message - you’ll be amazed that goals are met & progress is made while your meetings get shorter! Of course there are times when the agenda needs to be adjusted, but let that be rare. Also, be sure that you start & finish the meeting on time.

Stay on track
If you are in charge of running the meeting, it is your responsibility to keep everyone on task. This is a crucial role to play - sometimes difficult if the topic or outcome of the meeting is of great interest to you. If things start to drift off, identify it & steer it immediately back to the point at hand.

Monitor technology
We’ve all gotten in the habit of checking our phones relentlessly, as it can prove to be a distraction from your meeting’s goal. Decide if it’s appropriate for attendees to handle their phones during the meeting. You can always try a no-device policy, but there always seems to be exceptions. Expect your attendees to act like adults & hold them accountable for the meeting’s goals. Perhaps an easy solution may be for everyone to put their phones in the middle of the table (on vibrate) during crucial points throughout the meeting. If someone REALLY needs to take a call or text, they are free to do so but it keeps people from compulsively checking their phone unnecessarily every 5 minutes.

Track off-topic ideas separately
It is inevitable that someone in a meeting will begin talking about a related but off-topic subject, so you have to decide quickly if it will derail the meeting & push participants away from your goal. When this happens, recognise the idea, question or thought as valuable & have the person taking minutes note the idea down. Sometimes the tangents call for another meeting, or a sub-group to discuss & report back.

Follow up
Within the next business day, be sure to email or provide a copy of the meeting minutes, including the decisions that were made, Plus, most importantly, what people are responsible for, their deadlines & when & where the next meeting will take place (if required).

We trust this may assist in some way to further refine your meeting management techniques – we’d love to hear any other ideas you may like to share to help your peers too! In the meantime, remember we''re here to help support you with all the behind the scenes groundwork in sourcing the best options from 1,000s of venue & supplier choices while you focus on looking after your manager, your teams & meeting/event content. So lean on us, it’s free…

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