Communicating in a meeting is an essential part of effective communication. Some meetings are not conducted in an efficient manner due to which they fail in accomplishing the sole objective of the meeting. It may be because:
• They do not involve participation of all, or
• They may be too long, or
• They may be unsystematic, or
• They may lack a clear agenda, or
• They may not begin on the planned time, or
• They may end without any conclusion.
As a result, such meetings lead to agitation and sheer wastage of time. In order to ensure effectiveness of a meeting, it must be planned, systematic and rational.
The process of running an effective meeting includes the following steps:
Plan the meeting: Plan the meeting in advance. With the plan clear in mind, the objective of the meeting can be well accomplished. Planning includes-
• Outline the objective of the meeting.
• Decide the attendees/participants of the meeting.
• Plan an agenda for the meeting, i.e., the topics to be discussed, the sequence in which they will be discussed, in how much detail they will be discussed, the time given to each agenda topic, etc.
• Plan the starting time of the meeting, plan for the breaks, and also plan the approximate time by which the meeting should end.
Announce/declare the meeting: After planning the meeting and before actually beginning the meeting, the participants should be delivered a message/memorandum to make them aware and ready for the topics to be discussed in the meeting. Give each participant responsibility for the agenda item. Issue the agenda.
Conduct the meeting: Be punctual. Try and arrive before time for the meeting. The meeting should begin on time. State the objective of the meeting in the very beginning so that all are clear with the purpose of the meeting. Give a brief introduction of the members/participants so that all are familiar. Circulate notes and handouts. Involve all attendees during the discussion. Encourage new ideas from the participants. Respect their ideas. Ask for a feedback.
Make sure that there are no distractions during the meeting (such as ringing cell phones, or participants fiddling with pen, or gossiping, etc.). Give a quick review of the issues discussed in the meeting. Make sure that all the issues are discussed within the time frame. If time does not permit discussion of all issues, ask the participants if they are comfortable in discussing those issues in next meeting. Fix and decide upon the time for the next meeting.
Evaluate the meeting: Assess the meeting after it is conducted. Distribute an evaluation form to all participants which provides you a feedback on the effectiveness of the meeting. To get credible and honest feedback, do not give a space for name of the attendee on the form. Ask questions such as whether the objectives of the meetings were well met, did it involve participation of all, which part of the meeting did the attendee found most constructive and which part of meeting was not significant.