When you’re running a meeting, it’s important that you can show that you’re in control and that you know what you’re talking about.
You have to be the one to give the meeting a sense of direction, to manage the time and to diffuse any disputes which may arise throughout the session, along with making sure everyone is prepared to bring ideas to the table and discuss the issues at hand.
So, if you’re in charge of your first ever meeting or simply want to brush up on your skills, how can you make sure your meeting goes as smoothly as possible?
Preparation is key when it comes to meetings.
Make sure there is a supply of pens, paper and other stationery as people will inevitably forget their own, and if you have asked people to refer to a resource make sure there are extra copies.
You should also provide the structure of the meeting and make sure everyone is aware of important points raised in previous meetings. Also provide water and hot drinks so that people don’t need to keep leaving the room.
When it comes to discussions, don’t let one person dominate and make sure everyone is invited to voice their opinion.
While some may not readily contribute of their own accord, if you invite responses from individuals or teams they will generally offer up their views when asked.
It is your role to control everyone and make sure there is a fair division of time between all of the team members, so be sure that you have heard from everyone who wishes to speak before moving on.
One way to make sure everyone gets their point across is with an electronic voting system. If you are using a slideshow to guide the meeting, you can present questions on here which relate to buttons on a handheld remote.
Each team member then votes anonymously, and the responses appear immediately on the screen.
This speeds up the decision making process, means that shy team members get to express their opinions and means that voting on new policy or ideas is more democratic and less led by those who shout the loudest.
Time management is vital in a meeting. While you don’t want to rush through all the material so everyone can go home earlier, you don’t want the meeting to run past its set time as people will become restless and irritable and stop engaging with the material.
One technique is to allow five minutes of buffer time between each topic to allow you to wrap everything up so that it doesn’t overrun.