In my last post I noted that badly run meetings are a serious
problem in today’s workplace and advocated four ways that could improve them. This post will continue with six additional methods to make your meetings more effective.
5. Appoint a recorder, timekeeper and facilitator.
This was Doyle and Straus' unique contribution to meeting effectiveness. These three roles keep the meeting moving and on track.
Appoint people to play these roles at each meeting. The roles can be rotated during the meeting if there is an important issue that the role players want to participate in.
Have the recorder chart (on a flip chart) the "meeting notes" as the meeting progresses. This "public" recording of the meeting eliminates the need for minutes and allows everyone to stay involved by having his or her contributions noted. This method also allows for making corrections on the spot. The notes should be transcribed and made available to all after the meeting.
The timekeeper notes time allotted for agenda items and makes sure the time is adhered to.
The facilitator keeps the meeting on track and makes sure the ground rules are followed, participation is wide spread, people are listened to and issues are aired and brought to a conclusion.
6. Plan the meeting.
Review the agenda and the meeting’s purpose. Get agreement on the outcomes to be accomplished by the end of the meeting. Make sure you have genuine buy-in.
7. Appoint a Devil’s advocate.
For each issue discussed, appoint and rotate the role of "devil's advocate". Many people will not speak out at meetings for fear of retribution, low group trust or just the fear of looking stupid. As a result "group think" becomes the norm and poor decisions result. By appointing a devil's advocate, you give official permission for raising differing views.
8. Designate follow-up.
After an issue is agreed upon, designate:
- Who is responsible
- What they will do
- By when
This is the key issue of accountability. It makes the meeting worthwhile because it results in real organizational change.
9. Do a meeting review.
On a flip chart sheet, draw a line down the middle. On the top of the left column place a simple plus (+). On the other column, place a delta (∆) (for needs improvement). List group responses to the following:
- Were the outcomes achieved?
- What worked and what didn't?
- How can the meeting be improved?
Use this information to plan the next meeting.
10. Monitor what happens after the meeting.
Note the water cooler/coffee machine conversations after the meeting. That's where the real meeting analysis often comes out. Comments made away from a meeting — negative or positive — do not contribute to the meeting’s productivity. If you hear such comments, figure out a way to bring that information to the next meeting. It may require a revision of the ground rules so people feel safe to discuss the real issues.
Meetings don't have to be the horrible experience that they often are. By following these tips, your meetings and your organizational results will improve.