Work meetings are, without a doubt, a crucial tool for companies and organizations in order to exchange and assess information, come up with new ideas and combine efforts, develop plans and projects, devise performance strategies, and solve issues and conflicts, while fostering motivation and improving integration and communication among the members of the team.
In order for a meeting to be a success, it must be lively, practical and effective; that is why experts advise to keep them below the 90 minute mark, since they may end up being too long and boring; however, the ideal length is estimated in around 45 minutes.
Before, during and after
Having these premises in mind, the key to organizing an effective meeting is to take enough time beforehand for preparation, on the basis of a roadmap detailing all the topics to be discussed, in what order they should be presented and the time designated to address each subject. Necessary and essential participants must be also chosen and given notice in advance, providing them with the information regarding place, day and time of the meeting, as well as the approach required to prepare their contributions.
Starting the meeting at the appointed time is paramount. Observing the schedule is a sign of respect, since time, in working environments, is money. After a brief overview to disclose the main purpose of the meeting, the objectives expected to be achieved and the working methodology to reach them, the planned agenda should be followed, avoiding non-scheduled topics.
The convenor must ensure the progress of the meeting, define everyone’s turn to speak and comply with agreed timeframes. Likewise, he must seek active and balanced participation of the attendants, preventing individuals with a more overwhelming personality from prevailing and drawing all the attention at the expense of those more introverted and with a more reserved nature. Also, he must try to avoid excessive pauses, interruptions or never-ending contributions, while encouraging communication and cooperation, in order to generate synergies and feedback.
As far as possible, care should be taken to ensure that, in addition to engaging in dialogue, all agreed topics are discussed while unproductive, non-conclusive rambling is avoided. Let’s not forget that the meeting is the means to achieve an action plan. In addition, before concluding the meeting, a time for Q & A and pointing out final conclusions must be allocated.
Once the meeting is finished, it’s the organizer’s task to summarize the topics addressed and to take note of the agreed goals and conclusions and the measures to be implemented, as well as to accredit those responsible for them and the scheduled completion times, eventually sending the minutes to the participants. Finally, another meeting will be called to ensure the fulfilment of everything agreed previously.
Work meetings are still working time, that is, periods of activity. They’re never a place to have a break, or to be a mere spectator or disengage; therefore, the involvement of all those convened is extremely important.
For the presentation to be as productive as possible, professionals must be aware that those who don’t voice an opinion are providing leverage to others, increasing their risk of going unnoticed. Hence, taking part in a meeting will allow you to show your stance in the work environment, being also the best way to make yourself visible and to express your thoughts when teamworking.
Participants must stay positive at all times. They must be properly seated, pay attention to the speaker respectfully and avoid any distractions and disturbances, such as mobile phones, as well as being able to wait for their turn to put their ideas forward.
At the time of intervention, it is important to use positive words that help our enhancement inside the company, maintain eye contact with the audience, and assume a relaxed, yet firm stance, with an energetic tone of voice, loud enough to be heard by everybody. You must provide relevant considerations, avoiding digressions or iterations. It is also advisable to take notes in order to plan future actions ahead.
Negative attitudes and non-constructive criticism must be avoided at all times. However, you should be neither overly positive or a joker, nor appear as an indifferent, absent or bored individual. Forgetting the name of your opposite number, being unpunctual, leaving the phone on or answering out-calls are some other aspects that, without a doubt, must be avoided.
We must never be disrespectful towards the rest of the participants, since meetings are arranged to comment and discuss work-related issues. Ideas can be debated upon, while respecting others’ opinions in spite of disagreeing.
Moreover, self-consciousness is not an excuse to remain silent. Even if it’s not easy at the beginning, we must dare to venture outside our comfort zone to make ourselves visible and progress towards our professional objectives. In fact, it might be the perfect occasion to encourage our social identity and our sense of integration into a group.
In summary, we could state that effective work meetings add great value to teamworking, provide professional satisfaction and are a source of motivation and self-esteem. Besides, they are useful to establish operational guidelines that will generate profit for the company eventually, since they’re developed within a context of continuous improvement.
Sources: University of Wisconsin – Madison, James H. Saylor, Business Insider, University of Calgary