Lead Meetings With Confidence
As the meeting facilitator, you make the difference between an effective meeting and a waste of time. Here are some tips to help you make the most of every meeting.
Set the Tone of the Meeting
- Arrive early to set up the room, make sure the equipment works and distribute handouts and agendas
- Greet participants as they arrive; check with those who are responsible for portions of the meeting to be sure they are prepared
- Start on time, no matter who is missing (If your group has a history of starting late and you’re trying to get things back on track, send out a reminder 30 minutes before the meeting, then close the door at that time and start. Before long, participants will understand the new arrangement. That said, initially, you may want to build your agenda with less important things first.)
- Stick to the agenda and circulate it a couple days before the event
- End early whenever possible.
Seven Skills for Leading Meeting Discussion
- Set the ground rules and follow them
- Ask questions to promote participation, rather than saying, “Let’s talk about …”
- Demand that participants treat each other respectfully. Model that behavior by not interrupting, always giving the person speaking your full attention and monitoring your nonverbal signals.
- Respect participants’ time by reminding them how much time has been allotted for each section of the meeting, and by taking steps to keep the meeting on track and focused
- After each section of the meeting, summarize the key points and point out what was accomplished
- Encourage creative thinking and open discussion by maintaining an environment that makes people feel comfortable sharing their ideas or concerns. Making it “safe” for everyone to share generates better discussion and well-considered solutions. Save the peacemaking for the end of the discussion.
- Mediate when conflict arises by objectively summarizing each perspective and acknowledging the value of each
Use Active Listening to Control, but Not Take Over, the Meeting
- Paraphrase what others are saying, and use that to transition to another speaker or another topic
- Use brief praise, such as “good point,” “great idea” or even “thanks!”
- Model active listening to encourage others to focus on the discussion
Meetings will always play a key role in getting and keeping everyone on the same page. When you’re leading the meeting, stay organized and on time and work to create robust discussion and involve everyone present.