Welcome to Meetings 101...
For a some people, holding a meeting is almost like second nature, but there are plenty of others who don’t find it quite as easy. As a member of the ‘second nature’ group, we have decided to share our MeetingsBooker.com knowhow.
Generally those who find great difficulty in conducting a meeting, are missing out on a few simple, but essential, elements which can help achieve their desired result.
To meet or not to meet?
Meetings are effective when they are carried out at the right time. Don’t oversaturate your workplace with meetings. Fewer meetings with more topics will help you save time and will get most things dealt with in one sitting.
The exception to the rule is if you feel something cannot wait until your next meeting. In this case, hold an emergency general meeting (EGM). Deal solely with the urgent topic and keep all else until your next scheduled meeting.
Confidence - a meeting must have
Meetings are the perfect opportunity to show your leadership and communication skills so make sure you have confidence in what you’re delivering. Having confidence, or a lack of, can make or break a great meeting leader. If you speak with confidence, your audience will have confidence in what you’re saying.
Two easy steps to convey confidence:
1) Do not bury your face in your notes - speak only when you have a pair of eyes. Making eye contact with your audience members will allow them to see that you aren’t afraid to speak to them. They will be more inclined to listen if they feel you are delivering to them rather than to a sheet of paper. Added to this, speaking only when you have a pair of eyes combats speech slurs such as ‘eh’ and ‘um’. (Trust us.)
2) Unless you need to gesture to something, keep your arms by your side to combat fidgeting. Fidgeting with your hands can convey a sense of nervousness which can unsettle an audience.
(Click here for more presentation tips.)
Agenda - Preparation is everything.
All meetings should have an agenda i.e a list which outlines each topic you plan to discuss.
You should share your agenda with attendees a few days before the meeting. This means that people have time to prepare or suggest changes to the topics.
You can include a few topics in your agenda but make sure there is one main focus of the meeting - without a focus, the meeting will be a waste of time.
Make sure to include ‘Any Other Business’ (AOB) in your agenda so that other last minute topics can be brought up too.
Don’t forget to begin with the minutes of the last meeting i.e briefly recap on what was discussed at the last meeting.
Above all, make sure you stick to your agenda during the meeting.
Minutes - Keeping a record.
Minutes, in short, are notes taken during a meeting
There should be a designated minute taker at every meeting.
You can choose to write them, tape record them or both, just once they’re being taken.
Written minutes shouldn’t include entire sentences of what people have said, but rather general observations that have been made regarding the topic and, of course, the result of the discussion.
Any topic or tasks given, which have to be reviewed at the next meeting should also be included in the minutes.
Minutes of the last meeting should be read out at the start of the next meeting, but it is important to review them before the next meeting happens. This is to ensure that any issue or action to be dealt with before the next meeting is dealt with.
Choose your attendees.
When it comes to holding a meeting you need to make sure to invite the relevant people, but also be wary of leaving people out.
For example, if you wish to have a managers only meeting you should ensure that each manager has had at least one meeting with their department beforehand. This allows each manager to prepare topics for, and report any issues at, the manager’s meeting. It is their duty to make sure that everyone, who has an opinion, is heard and that it is brought to the attention of higher management.
Unless your meeting is specifically happening solely to communicate a message, decisions to be made, should be made at the meeting.
If the relevant people / the people who know most about the issue aren’t there, make a note. Make sure that it is dealt with before the next meeting.
Delegate tasks to be completed so that people know what to be doing until the next meeting.
Where to sit?
Choosing what size room and seating layout you need all depends on the amount of people attending your meeting. MeetingsBooker.com allows you to input your exact amount of attendees and shows you the best suited rooms and layouts available.
Room layout also need to be considered when it comes to the nature of the meeting. For example, if your meeting includes a presentation, a seating plan which allows everyone to see the presenter / screen should be chosen.
(Click here to read more about seating plans.)
Time to impress.
When you have outside clients coming in for a meeting you may have to bring out the big guns.
Agenda, minutes etc all still apply, but you need a few more flourishes.
Make sure there are plenty of pens and notepads in your meeting room
Have a selection of water, tea & coffee
If it is due to be a long meeting, arrange some sort of catering
If you intend on making a presentation, have some hard copies printed to hand out for two reasons:
1) It allows everyone to have a closer look.
2) If you need a computer & projector to present and there is a technical mishap, you will have something to go by.
Having the wifi password displayed in the room is a handy flourish for your outside attendees. They may need to access the internet for their own presentation needs.
For larger meeting events you may have a particular seating arrangement so make sure you have names displayed on chairs / desks.
Break it up.
For long meetings, break it up a bit with some exercises such as brainstorming or team building activities to keep everyone awake and participating.
If you are entertaining outside guests, you could arrange to give a tour of the building for example.
How did it go?
While you’re still getting the hang of things a good idea is to conduct a short survey after the meeting.
Asking people what they thought of the meeting can help you improve your next meetings and see what really works. You can simply ask a few colleagues what they thought rather than preparing a full survey to print out after each meeting.
This is a good idea for even when you do get the hang of things, as it will allow you to continue to keep ontop of things.
Examples of questions: Did we stick to the agenda?; Were there any challenges & how well or badly were they handled?; What should be done differently for the next meeting?; Did anything unexpected happen?; What needs more prep?
The Ultimate Tip
Turn your presentation into a conversation.
This goes hand in hand with having confidence. When you turn your thought process to talking with people rather than at them you can hugely improve the effectiveness of your meeting.
To be effective, your audience has to not only absorb what you’re saying, but also understand it. Afterall, a meeting or presentation is pointless if no one gets it.
Begin by thinking of presentations and meetings as two way communication. You need to pay your audience as much attention as they do you.
With a combination of all or most of these elements you will be able to hold a seamless meeting, every time.
If you still need some more meeting know-how, click here for Meeting Don't's!