Written by Mitch McCrimmon, Ph.D.
What are the chief characteristics of an effective meeting? While the answer to this question may vary somewhat with the purpose of some meetings, there are a few general success criteria we can agree on.
Effective meetings are generally short and to the point, well organized - clear goals for the meeting, all contribute fully, all feel comfortable disagreeing, conflict is constructive and creative, decisions are made and action is planned, the group regularly reviews their effectiveness and meetings feel like fun!
Making your meetings more effective
- Be clear in advance what you want to achieve in a meeting - what should be the output?
- Have a chairperson but ensure that everyone LEADS on some topic.
- Everyone should take ownership for an agenda item and come prepared.
- Otherwise, too many people come to meetings in a passive listening mode.
- Some argumentativeness is caused by people reacting to their own passivity.
- Develop an explicit process for expressing and resolving dissent to make it safe.
- All participants should take responsibility to ensure that everyone has their say.
- Set time limits for agenda items - delegate to subcommittees unexpected developments.
- Train participants in active listening, constructive feedback and communication skills.
- Regularly review what criteria you use for effective meetings.
- Periodically review how well your meetings stack up against your success criteria.
- Hold frequent meetings offsite in casual dress to break down barriers and relax..
- Everyone should leave the meeting with action plans: to do before the next meeting.