How to hold effective meetings
- 1 Identify the meeting objectives, for example, to discuss issues and make decisions, to brainstorm ideas or to motivate the team.
- 2 Decide who needs be present and why.
- 3 Arrange a date, time and place; make any administrative arrangements including organising the venue, refreshments and, if necessary, a secretary for the meeting.
- 4 Set the agenda, with a clear objective for each item; note who will lead the discussion of each item.
- 5 Prepare a timetable, allocating time for each item; consider separate, shorter meetings if there is too much to cover in a reasonable time.
- 6 Circulate the agenda and any supporting papers as early as possible.
- 7 Prepare if necessary, discuss sensitive issues or agree your approach with key participants before the meeting.
- 8 Start the meeting on time, welcome participants and make introductions; explain the timetable and administrative arrangements (eg breaks).
- 9 Introduce each agenda item in turn in a balanced, positive fashion.
- 10 Control the discussion; encourage quiet participants, and restrain attempts to dominate the discussion or to raise unrelated topics.
- 11 Give your own views after other participants; summarise the discussion.
- 12 If appropriate, agree a decision; clarify responsibilities and deadlines for any action points.
- 13 Stick to the timetable; be prepared to hold over topics for further discussion at a later date if necessary.
- 14 Address any non-agenda items which have arisen; discuss them at the end of the meeting if appropriate, or agree to postpone them.
- 15 Reiterate the main points and thank participants before ending the meeting.
- 16 Circulate minutes of the discussions and action points agreed to all participants and others affected; monitor subsequent progress.
- circulate the agenda well in advance
- prepare thoroughly
- set and stick to the timetable
- handle each item separately
- control discussion
- agree detailed action points when appropriate
- circulate minutes soon afterwards
- spring unwelcome surprises on participants
- prejudge or dominate discussions
- allow discussions to be sidetracked
- plan marathon meetings or allow meetings to drag on