Effective Meetings


The Agenda, that list of topics which will be discussed put in the proper order the meeting is to go, helps to direct the activity, to distribute information.  Agendas need to be given out at least two days before the meeting to give people time to bone up on the background.

Ask yourself what goal you want accomplished at the meeting. Ask the other participants what their stand is on the various points that are going to come up. Who is the most powerful? What other positions are there? Have a pre-meeting with the boss. Once you have evaluated the agenda, you may find the meeting is one to be avoided. Let us assume you have decided to go to the meeting. Ideally the meeting is scheduled when everyone has time to be listened to and feels heard so each one relaxes enough to hear what others are saying. Sit across from your superiors so you can better take cues from them rather appearing presumptuous by either taking their seats or sitting between your superior and your boss. That would be a different sort of invading a person’s personal space.

Do not become impatient. If you are irritated do not show it. You need less stamina and courage than proper planning. Use strategies to stay calm and effective to help the meeting move smoothly. It takes time for someone to listen to another point of view because he or she is also keen on getting a point of view across as well. This is why the pre-emptive strike of consulting with members and their ideas before the meeting is so valuable.

You can frame your approach out of consideration of people’s way of thinking about various topics in the agenda. Patience is enhanced when we are humble enough to admit that we may not be 100 percent correct. Our impressions are incomplete revealing our need for one another’s input into the meeting. Ideally your idea will need only be given in three parts before it is understood and received for discussion: give a statement, proof, and a restatement. Ideas listened to, understood and remembered are more likely to be used or adapted for use or alternatives may be given which will address the essence of your point.

Use analogies and quotes. Be a model of listening. It is easy to get sidetracked, particularly if you are bored or impatient. Do not clown around or be overly social but be business friendly creating an environment where it is a pleasure to work with you. Have a positive attitude while being on guard. Do not rush in approving suggestions but attentively take notes. This approach is respectful of the process of collaboration.

Use effective body language – do not slouch, fiddle with your hands, hair, cross your arms. If you get cold easily, try to have a sweater handy to avoid looking adversarial when all you are is cold.

Keep your train of thought. Do not get backed into a corner by saying something you do not mean. Stick to facts, not rumours. If attacks on your character occur, do not let it bother you.

Give others in the meeting the chance to have the wit to be offended for you. That is more fun than allowing yourself to be emotionally derailed mid-presentation. Handling such petty stresses help you to thrive in adversity and give you the stature of one who has dignity under fire.

Commit to making an agreement if at all possible, including compromise. This can only come about when conflict arises. Welcome new ideas to get the best possible outcome from a brainstorming session. Take care to let everyone have their say at least once. Give up your need to have your own way. Once all options are reviewed, then confidently make your move at the decision making table, respecting the efforts of the group. You will have a better chance of unifying the group to a consensus and to make a positive lasting impression, whatever the outcome.