Five Ways to Lead an Effective Meeting

An effective meeting is a business meeting that serves certain desired purposes in an optimal way. While meetings are among the core tools for making things happen in most organizations, they often consume too much time and resources. These five tips will help you to get more out of your meetings

1. Yes, you need an agenda
An agenda ads value to any meeting even if it’s a short informal one. Make sure everyone has a copy of the agenda well before the meeting. By listing the discussion topics, you organize the meeting in your mind and force yourself to consider how you will conduct it. Ask the participants to submit items for discussion, thus preparing everyone for what is to come and lessening the chances of unexpected, last-minute items that pull the meeting off course. Give each item a time frame, so that everyone knows the approximate time the meeting will end. Then stick to it.

2. Tell them why they are there
Start your meeting with a brief, clear statement of the purpose of the meeting. By using words like discuss, consensus, inform, decide, consider, let you know, ask your opinion, you will tell the attendees what you expect of them. If you don't know the objective of the meeting, you won't know when you get there!

3. Start with the most important items
Try turning things around. Put the items requiring serious discussion or decisions at the beginning of the agenda, and work back to those needing little input from the group. Stop the meeting at the scheduled time. The items not discussed will be the less important ones

4. Recap frequently
As the leader, you can keep everyone on track and the meeting moving along by frequently reviewing what has been said. When the discussion threatens to derail, interrupt with a reference to the specific point under discussion and sum up what has been agreed.

5. Take notes
Either take notes yourself or ask someone in the group to do so. You don’t have to write up formal minutes. All you need is a brief summary of what was discussed, was agreed and what actions are to be taken by individuals. The notes should be typed and shared with all attendees as soon after the meeting as possible.  Meeting notes will ensure that important follow-up actions don't slip through the cracks.