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Planning + Running an Effective Meeting

Young Professionals Connection Running a Meeting

October 8, 2013

Have you ever been sitting in a meeting and thought to yourself, “I could be doing ________ instead of sitting here.” Don’t let your next meeting fall victim to inefficiency. Take a minute to read these tips on running an effective and successful meeting.

Establishing the purpose of the meeting is a great way to start to your preparation. People are busy and their time is precious so it’s important to keep in mind whether or not a meeting is even necessary or if an email would be sufficient. If the topic at hand is best discussed in the setting of a meeting, then efficiency is key.

Agenda

The next step in efficient preparation would be setting the agenda. Make a list of items you’d like to accomplish and things that need to be addressed. If applicable, review the meeting minutes from the last meeting to see if there were any tabled topics or action items that will need to be updated. 

Creating a Useful Agenda Tips

  • Put the important information on the top of the page: time, location, call in number for conference calls, or even the date of the meeting.
  • Organize the meeting with the topics grouped that are relevant. Also take note if one topic’s discussion or outcome is dependent on a vote or consensus of a different topic and order the topics accordingly.
  • If you have a guest presenting in the meeting but they aren’t involved in sensitive items such as voting, financials, etc. place them at the start of the agenda so they can be excused before beginning other discussions.
  • Make sure you note on the agenda which individual(s) will be discussing each topic.
  • Add estimated time of discussion.
    1. Helps keep the meeting moving along and on time
    2. If it’s a come and go meeting, then attendees will know when they need to show up/when they can leave
    3. Gives more time to those topics that have presentations, expected discussions, or voting.
  • Send the agenda out prior to the meeting and ask for additions
    1. This helps avoid any surprises, allows appropriate material to be prepared, and makes sure all topics are covered.
    2. Ask if there will be any conflicts of interest for any of the topics.
    3. Request that individuals come prepared for their listed topics and submit any items they will be presenting on prior to the meeting.
    4. If you will need to schedule another meeting, make sure you add that as a topic before you adjourn!

The Meeting

It’s important to have a leader for the meeting to keep things moving along, help with assignments, and quell any arguments; but always remember that there is no ‘Me’ or ‘I’ in leader. For a meeting to be successful, the leader must allow for individuals to contribute and take ownership of their assignments and action items. Not everyone will always walk away feeling like they got their way, but everyone should feel like they were able to contribute and express their opinion

Running an Effective Meeting Tips

  • Table items that aren’t pressing if you are running out of time.
  • Allot enough time for highly important issues. You don’t want to rush through your budget planning in 5 minutes just because everyone wants to go home.
  • To save time, assign or have individuals volunteer for a committee on a topic that needs more research or discussion, then have the committee report back to the group at a preset future meeting. If the topic has to be decided on that night, divide up/assign work and set an amount of time to work, then regroup.
  • Don’t forget to plan for food and bathroom breaks. It can be tiring sitting in a meeting all day. Help revive people with a little sugar rush and a chance to stretch their legs. But be forewarned about the annoying and distracting sounds plastic candy wrappers can make.
  • Take the time to discuss a wrap up before you adjourn.
    1. Include the assigned action items
    2. Highlight the things you achieved
    3. Ask for topics for the next meeting

Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes are an essential part of the meeting as they capture the work that was done and decisions that were made. It is also a good way to make sure everyone is on the same page (pun intended). The recording of minutes should be assigned prior to the start of the meeting. 

Taking Meeting Minutes Tips

  • Try to avoid recording the ‘conversation’ aspect of the meeting. Only include items that will be necessary to move your goals forward or that are important to document.
    1. Voting
    2. Action items
    3. Final decisions
    4. Motions
  • Send the minutes out within a few days of the meeting while the discussions are still fresh in people’s minds as well as make sure everyone knows what was assigned.
  • Distribute to individuals that were present and absent.
  • If you are having difficulties with people not showing up or calling in for your meeting you might want to include an attendance sheet with the minutes to help people see how many they’ve been missing.

Having a successful meeting is an integral part of progress within any group, committee, or organization. Implementing these tips into practice will certainly assist with efficient meeting planning and ensure an effective meeting. Hopefully, each participant will walk away from the meeting with a feeling of accomplishment, instead of feeling that any time was wasted.

Lacey Hameister
Jr. Account Executive
Diversified Management Services