People frequently lament time spent in meetings. But they don’t have to be wasted time. In fact, with a little effort, most meetings can be productive for everyone–and even educational and entertaining. What’s critical is that every meeting attendee takes to heart three general but key principles of effective meeting management.
1. Effective meetings require planning.
Planning means that:
•The presiding officer knows what items the group needs to discuss and vote on. An agenda identifying these items has been prepared and disseminated before the meeting to the people who need to attend.
• The presiding officer knows how to lead discussion, solicit input, and conduct a vote on specific actions proposed (including holding elections, if that’s relevant to the organization and context)
• Officers, committee chairs, and others are prepared to give reports when called on.
• Individuals who want to discuss a topic not scheduled for the meeting contact the presiding officer ahead of time to place it on the agenda, if it’s considered appropriate.
• Meeting attendees who wish to speak about a topic prepare their remarks beforehand, if possible.
• The meeting starts and ends at the designated times.
2. All attendees at effective meetings assume responsibility for its outcome.
All meeting attendees, not just the presiding officer and committee chairs, take an active role in the proceedings. They strive to remain focused and engaged in deliberation, constructively participating in discussions to further the progress of the sponsoring organization and its individual members.
3. Officers and other attendees follow up to implement decisions made.
If the individuals at a meeting vote, for example, to spend money on a gift to acknowledge a vendor’s support, the president or other designated individual ensures that it is done. If a committee is appointed to plan an event, the committee sets a date to meet immediately after the meeting and commits to report back to the parent organization.