Ian Rummels gives his top tips on holding effective meetings
There is the old joke about a guy on the phone saying ‘I’m in a meeting discussing how to reduce the number of meetings that go on in the office!’
Individuals should be encouraged to challenge whether attendance, or even the meeting itself, is strictly necessary and to ask whether the discussion could be carried out in a more efficient way.
If this doesn’t happen, people can find themselves attending a meeting simply because their name happens to appear on a delegate list, rather than because they have a relevant contribution to make or will add value to the discussion.
There are organisations that conduct meetings with all the participants standing up – and they get the business done very quickly!
Private sector meetings usually involve a monthly get-together to review key business issues, often supplemented by weekly conference telephone calls.
However, in the public sector, meetings are rife and can cover anything from the smallest matter to major strategic issues. The use of technology is coming to the fore, but long distance travelling still prevails, particularly when regional or national matters are to be debated.
Certainly the effectiveness of any meeting is down to the skills of the chairperson, the tightness of the agenda and the agreed start and finish time. The agenda should be shared beforehand with any additional items being raised before the meeting to ensure there are no surprises.
One way to approach a meeting is to think what you would do if it was with a potential customer. Usually in such circumstances you would consider what you want to cover and why in the knowledge that time is tight.