Mastering Meetings – Group Meetings

Mastering Meetings – Group Meetings Share

As we received a fair amount of interest in our recent post about CPD training and managing meetings, we thought we’d share a two-part follow-up in the run up to our course on the topic this week. Today we’re focusing on managing group meetings, so here are some top tops to help first-timers do this effectively.

Set the agenda

Your meeting should always have a clear purpose, and it’s your job to decide the issues worth including in the meeting, considering their relative priority level. Structure the agenda accordingly, bearing in mind those items at the bottom may not get as much time and attention. If a decision is required for a specific item, say so. If it’s a creative item or just for information, say so. If you have guest speakers or presenters for items, name them. Circulate the agenda in advance to allow others to feedback on it.

Allocate a realistic time slot for each item, including breaks. The average attention span for an adult is 45-60 minutes, so try to have breaks roughly every hour, even if it’s just five minutes for everyone to stretch their legs.

Running the meeting

The key to success is keeping control: stick to the agenda and focus on the outcomes. To do this you may need to politely suppress the over-zealous, encourage the nervous and stimulate the bored. Keep a close eye on the group throughout as individuals can drift in and out of paying attention during the course of your meeting. Assigning individual tasks or swapping the order of agenda items can help keep everyone engaged.

In quiet meetings, it can be easy to mistake any engaged conversation as progress, but is it on topic? You may have to get used to saying phrases like: ‘You have a point, but it’s not for this meeting – we’ll discuss it another time.’ Just make sure you follow up accordingly!

Timekeeping

Just as its important to keep conversation going with everyone getting a fair say, it’s also important to keep things efficient. Depending on the number items on your agenda you may have to be quite brief and brutal in your decision-making in order to get things done.

If you have allocated specific amounts of time to certain items, it is your job to stick to those timings to keep things moving and ensure nothing is missed. Keep a timepiece near you and visible at all times to help you do this.

Meetings notes/minutes

There are various opinions on who should be take the minutes/actions in meetings, but the most important thing is that someone does. Either do it yourself or allocate someone you trust – you could even rotate this role depending on the type of meeting or group you have.

To make your meetings as effective as possible, have a quick recap of the minutes midway through longer meetings, and definitely at the end to summarise the points discussed and remind any attendees of their actions. Circulate the minutes to all invited attendees (and other relevant parties) afterwards, and ensure all actions are followed up on.

Different meeting types

While your meetings are most likely to have a specific agenda and aims requiring a clear role from you as leader, some more complex meeting types will require different tactics.

You may find yourself playing mediator for two (or more) parties with conflicting viewpoints, so you should ensure each side gets the chance to put across their viewpoint uninterrupted. You may need to be specific to get down to facts rather than emotions, and then address each point raised individually to agree an outcome that works best for everyone.

For creative brainstorming meetings with no set agenda, you’ll need to play to the strengths of your group and potentially do some tactical buddying up to draw the most out of each participant. It’s important to keep these moving, regrouping and encouraging all participants to get the most out of them.

If you’d like to learn more or practically try out any of these ideas in a safe environment it’s still not too late to book onto our Managing Meetings CPD training course. Get in touch for more details.

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