Effective meetings
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Effective Meetings. Solving the riddle. Preliminary Thoughts. Who likes a meeting… Without a clearly defined agenda That seems to drag-on forever That rambles from topic-to-topic That ends without any apparent result? These types of meetings are Frustrating

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Effective meetings l.jpg

Effective Meetings

Solving the riddle

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Preliminary Thoughts

  • Who likes a meeting…

    • Without a clearly defined agenda

    • That seems to drag-on forever

    • That rambles from topic-to-topic

    • That ends without any apparent result?

  • These types of meetings are

    • Frustrating

    • A waste of one of the most valuable resources of any organization – time.

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Number of Meetings


Meeting Management

Many people are promoted, elevated, or elected into leadership positions without receiving any formal training or education on how to run an effective meeting.

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Meeting problem solutions

  • Which three are most common in meetings you attend? On the next slide, brainstorm a solution for each and at your next meeting, use your solutions

  • For example…

    • Meeting problem 1: No agenda or plan

    • Solution: Even if you are not officially leading the meeting, develop a general outline of what you expect for and from the meeting. Share it at the beginning of the meeting. “My understanding is that…, is that correct?”

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Meeting problem solutions

  • Which three problems are most common in meetings you attend? Brainstorm solutions:

    • Meeting problem 1:

    • Solution:

    • Meeting problem 2:

    • Solution:

    • Meeting problem 3:

    • Solution:

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Why Effective Meetings?

  • Opportunity Costs

    • A one-hour meeting with 2 managers and 4 employees:

  • Manager: $150/hour – $300

  • Employees: $60/hour – $240.00

  • Total – $540.00

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Why have a meeting?

  • Take a few moments to jot down your thoughts below

  • What are some purposes meetings can address? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Ineffective Meetings

  • Characteristics of negative meetings†:

    • 83% – drift from the subject

    • 77% – poor preparation

    • 74% – questionable effectiveness

    • 68% – lack of listening

    • 62% – verbose participants

    • 60% – length

    • 51% – lack of participation

†From Achieving Effective Meetings – Not Easy But Possible, Bradford D. Smart in a survey of 635 executives.

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Effective Meetings

  • What people are looking for in effective meetings‡:

    • 88% – participation

    • 66% – well defined meeting purpose

    • 62% – address each item on the agenda

    • 59% – assign follow-up action

    • 47% – record discussion

    • 46% – invite essential personnel

    • 36% – publish an agenda

‡ From GM Consultants, Pittsburgh, PA 1993

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Meeting purpose

  • Good reasons for meetings include:

    • To share information

    • To receive information/opinions

    • To solve problems

    • To make decisions

    • To accomplish tasks

      Think of the last meeting you attended. What was it’s purpose? For example, the purpose of a weekly status meeting is to give information.

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Is a meeting necessary?

  • A meeting is not always the most effective way to communicate. Before planning, scheduling, or accepting an invitation to a meeting, ask these questions:

    • Why are we calling people together?

    • Is a meeting the most effective/efficient means?

    • Would a memo/email/call suffice?

    • Is there a need/desire for group interaction?

    • What would happen if we didn’t meet?

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To meet or not to meet…

  • Take a few moments to jot down your thoughts. Would you call a group meeting to:

    • Announce a change in dress code

    • Provide a project update

    • Provide regular work team status

    • Introduce a new employee

    • Reconcile differences in a work team

    • Get feedback on a new proposal

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To meet or not to meet…

  • Announce a change in dress code – a memo/email can announce the change, a meeting would be useful to answer questions and gain acceptance

  • Provide a project update – pure status reports can be sent as memos or emails, meetings allow for questions and problems solving if necessary

  • Provide regular work team status – pure status reports can be sent as memos or emails

  • Introduce a new employee – one-on-one is best

  • Reconcile differences in a work team – a meeting is important so all voices can be heard and fairness is ensured

  • Get feedback on a new proposal – a group meeting may foster brainstorming. Individual meetings are important ensure you hear from those who may be intimidated in larger settings

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It’s all part of the plan

These problems fall into categories that align with four basic dimensions of the meeting plan:

  • Purpose

  • Preparation

  • Process

  • Participation

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No clear or shared objectives

Meeting not necessary


No agenda or plan

Getting off the subject

Habitual late starts

No record keeping

Meeting too long

No clear decision-making method


Poor preparation on part of participants and leader

Wrong people present, right people absent


Poor participation on part of participants and leader


Hidden agendas

Common planning problems

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Types of Meetings

  • Formal or Informal

    • With agenda, rules of procedure, minutes or

    • Casual and relaxed - structure but nothing written

  • Planning

    • To prepare or evaluate a plan

    • To seek information

  • Reporting

    • Progress to date

    • Providing information or status reporting

  • Administrative

    • Regular Staff Meetings

    • Monthly Executive Committee Meetings

  • Decision Making

  • Brainstorming

  • Combinations

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Before the Meeting

  • Define the purpose of the meeting.

  • Consider an Ice Breaker

  • Identify the participants.

    • Every invitee should be identified

  • Prepare an agenda in advance of the meeting.

    • Communicate the intent of each agenda item using labels such as (A) Action,

    • (I) Information, (V) Vote.

    • Identify estimate of time allocated to the agenda item.

  • Assign responsibilities for agenda items and communicate to those responsible.

  • Publish the agenda and identify background information to be reviewed.

  • Plan for breaks – lunch, coffee, etc.

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Meeting Etiquette

  • It is always astonishing that professionals poised to attend a meeting enter a conference room empty handed and sometimes empty headed. Here is a list of things you might want to consider bringing to your next meeting.

    • If a printed agenda of the meeting was distributed prior to the start time, bring that agenda with you.

    • Bring a paper and pen.

    • If you are being asked to contribute to the meeting, bring supporting documents and be sure there are enough copies for everyone in the room.

    • Bring fresh ideas and/or opinions after reading any materials provided prior to the meeting. The reason those materials were passed out before the meeting was to ensure everyone was equally informed when the meeting starts. Don’t try to scan the material during the meeting.

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Meeting Etiquette

  • If you are invited to a meeting and cannot attend, alert the person in charge of the meeting and tell him/her if you are sending a substitute.

  • Latecomers should slip in, be seated, and catch up with what they missed after the meeting.

  • Most meetings should be kept to an hour. Longer than an hour leads to brain numbness and a lack of energy in the room. If the topic is too broad and an hour isn’t enough, schedule a follow-up meeting.

  • If it is a brainstorming meeting, invite interaction. Encourage lively discussions. Keep track of all ideas on a large board so everyone can see what has been brought up.

  • Before adjourning the meeting, clarify any decisions that have been made and any assignments that were given. No one should leave the room unclear of assignments or expectations.

  • Never underestimate the power of a blueberry muffin and a great cup of coffee at a morning meeting. Food can sometimes make the atmosphere more relaxed, which may encourage more positive communication and interaction.  

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International Meetings

  • When chairing an international business meeting it is always advisable to bear in mind the attendees’ cultures and backgrounds.

  • Time

    • Not all cultures live by the clock.

  • Hierarchy

    • The hierarchical nature of a culture can have a impact on the input given by participants in an international meeting. To offer a criticism of the manager’s idea would be seen as a loss of face for both the manager and the criticizer.

  • The Purpose of Meetings

    • Western meetings generally run to a tight schedule with an organized, pre-planned agenda. Meetings are for business. On the other hand, different cultures may see the meeting as the arena for building personal relationships and strengthening bonds.

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International Meetings

  • Multi-Cultural Meetings

    • A major mistake made when dealing with diverse cultures is to suggest that those of similar backgrounds or workgroups be seated together.

  • Alternative Communication Methods in Meetings

    • Prior to the meeting, e-mail members some questions regarding the forthcoming topics. Give them open-ended questions as to their opinions. Ask them to e-mail back their replies which can then be used to instigate their contribution in the meeting.

  • Always Confirm Meanings in Meetings

    • Where potential problems may exist as to interpretation always simplify meanings. If the meeting will deal with complex language or concepts consider forming a consensus on the meaning all participants will be comfortable with, then circulating them in advance of the meeting for review.

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How to Deal with Disruptive Members

  • Members who are vocally dominant

    • Redirect discussion to other members

      "We all recognize your expertise in this area, but let’s hear from some others in case some new ideas emerge.“

      "John has made his opinion clear; does anyone else have something they would like to add?"

  • Members who are negative

    • Probe the negativity to validate concerns

    • Redirect discussion to other members

    • If behavior persists, consider speaking off-line or excluding them from future meetings

      “Let’s not shoot down this idea prematurely; let’s give it some time for evaluation."

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Additional Thoughts

  • Don’t Read to the Group

    • Place more emphasis on processing information, than on giving information

    • A meeting is a place to discuss an issue to assure agreement or full understanding.

  • Everyone contributes to a meeting’s success.

    • Everyone must do their part.

    • When possible, make sure the right people are at the meeting.

    • If the material covered is not relevant to some people, arrange to have them excused from that portion of the meeting.

    • Make sure all meeting participants understand their responsibilities

  • Allow time for processing and group development

    • Checking off agenda items in a rapid-fire process is not always productive. It may move the meeting along more quickly, but may leave you wondering ‘what happened?’ when it’s over.

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Final Thoughts

  • Praise! Praise! Praise!

    • Praise people twice as much as you criticize.

    • Never let any good deed or action go unheralded in the group.

    • Say thank you publicly at every meeting.

    • Recognize the value of peoples’ contributions at the beginning or within the meeting.

  • Plan. Plan. Plan.

    • Meeting design is the #1 mechanism for effective meetings.

    • For each agenda item, make sure the group is clear about the goals, processes, and functions.

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  • H. C. Wedgewood, “Fewer Camels, More Horses: Where Committees Go Wrong,” Personnel, Vol. 44, No. 4, July-Aug 1967.

  • A. Jay, “How to Run a Meeting,” Harvard Business Review, March-April 1976, pp. 43-57.

  • Sadler and Tucker, Common Ground, South Melbourne, Macmillan, 1981.

  • Pearce, Figgens & Golen, Principles of Communication, New York, John Wiley & Sons, 1984.

  • B. L. Shoop, “How to run an Effective Meeting,” Focal Point, Optical Society of America, October 1996. Reprinted in IEEE CrossTalk, Vol. XXXIV, No. 8, January 1998.

  • http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/icebreak.html

  • http://www.chartcourse.com/book_energizers.html

  • http://www.videoprofessor.com/resourcelibrary/leadership/successfulmeetingtips.html

  • http://www.getahead-direct.com/gwmt03-organizing-successful-meetings.htm

  • http://www.amatyc.org/Old/Affiliates/Handbook/meetingquotes.htm

  • http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/10-7-2004-60214.asp

  • http://www.getahead-direct.com/gwmt01-effective-meetings-tips.htm