Do these common pitfalls undermine your meetings’ effectiveness?
Even in today’s technology world, face-to-face meetings continue to perform much better and provide a greater usefulness than any other means of communication. Personal meetings increase work satisfaction, improve task attachment and heighten company loyalty. Meetings may also be the only times you, as the leader, will be viewed as a guiding force of the company rather than just a taskmaster. That is why it is imperative to avoid problems that can easily ruin potentially productive meetings and spiral them into dismal, time-wasting ones.
Selection Is Key
One key issue to consider is who should attend the meeting and why the person’s attendance is essential to the purpose of the meeting. Start by including a careful scrutiny of potential participants. Keep in mind that any meeting tends to define a specific team, group of individuals or unit. Those who participate will belong to it. Those not invited or involved in its interaction never will become a component of its pool of shared knowledge, insight, experience, judgment and experience.
Consider the Meeting’s Collective Aim
A meeting needs to be the place where every participant learns the collective aim of the group. Ensure that the meeting becomes a “commitment vehicle” for the decisions being made by the group. Everyone must be on board and committed to the task and goal at hand. If someone is not on the same level as the others, perhaps that person should not be part of that group.
Understand the Challenge of Newly Established Meetings
An initial meeting gathering needs to be recognized and viewed as an “automatic status forum.” Initial encounters tend to evolve into an opportunity for its individual members to find out their relative standing within the group. Always expect some struggle for dominance and competition for top positioning as well as some forceful attempts at intimidation to establish importance.
Focus on Maintaining Positive Discussions and Outcomes
One important function of a meeting is to become an interactive place where revisions, updates or additions take place to enhance and move forward the meeting’s agenda or project. Be sure to allow this to happen within safe borders. Attendees should feel free to express opinions. Also remember that a meeting tends to establish its very own culture. This is why it is so important to give great consideration to what the meeting is supposed to accomplish and how you want it accomplished.
Not Planning for the Total Process
Committee and subcommittee types of meetings including work groups, project teams and/or boards tend to constitute the greatest number of meetings taking place in today’s business environment. Distinctions other than those of size will directly affect their nature, so make it a point to include a meeting’s frequency, composition, motivation and problem-solving process into your thinking and meeting development.
Not Establishing the Proper Size of a Meeting
Most meetings tend to become ineffective due to sizing problems. Positive outcomes tend to become seriously threatened when too many individuals are present at any one meeting. It’s best if four to seven people are assigned to attend an individual meeting. Some meetings can tolerate up to 10 individuals, but then expect the number to slow down the agenda and discussions. Never expect to have a truly effective meeting with 12 or more attendees. If you have a large group, see if there is some way to segment the meeting time into various sections or segments. Perhaps you can arrange the agenda so that not everybody needs to be present for every item being listed on it.
Not Determining the Proper Number of Meetings
Perhaps two or more separate but smaller meetings may be more effective in the long run than one larger span of time. Think through the agenda to notice where breaks in objectives occur. Multiple meetings may be the solution for enhancing outcomes and timetables. Most times these smaller ones tend to get more intense and as a result, get more done in a faster, meaningful way.
Not Carefully Examining Meeting Program Points
Scrutinize your meeting points and program. See if it can be arranged and broken into several meeting components, rather than simply following one continuous meeting flow? Is it possible to give various members selective informational or decision-making points or items of importance that directly affect their work areas at least one week in advance in order to discuss and thrash out the predetermined topics or items? Follow this by perhaps allowing them to select one representative to join the actual meeting. This person becomes the total group representative, spokesperson and liaison.
Shirley Bednarz, Ph.D., is the senior editor and chief researcher at Majorium Business Press, publishers of more than 100 training titles. For more information, visit www.majoriumbusinesspress.com. If you would like to learn more about effective meeting techniques, look for Marjorium’s “Effective Meetings: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series” available on the website. This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions.