Meeting planners are experts in planning meetings but how about leading meetings. Endless information exists on how to productively use employee time at meetings and avoid being known as a dreaded meeting leader. In a nutshell, here are five tips to make you excel as a meeting leader.
- • Strength. This doesn’t mean being a dictator. A presider must still collaborate and seek input before and during the meeting, and demand accountability afterwards. However, if you project strength as a presider, you will gain a reputation for leading effective meetings and participants will attend knowing their time is well spent. The most important skill of a presider is impartial listening-a skill that is fine-tuned with practice and time.
- Purpose. Meetings are not for general announcements or information sharing, which might be better communicated through email. Only call a meeting if there is a clear purpose and a defined outcome like a decision, brainstorming of ideas, updates or planning. To ensure this, create an agenda (topic, presenter, length of time) and share with meeting participants in advance, seeking input and asking them to be prepared before arriving, especially if they are on the agenda.
- Timing. Start on time. Get to the point. Stay on point. End early. Never penalize those who show up on time by interrupting the meeting to summarize for those who are tardy. Inefficient meetings cost billions of dollars of unproductive work time a year. Create a reputation for conducting upbeat, productive meetings.
- Control without being controlling. To achieve the meeting outcome in the allotted time, cross-talk and chaos need to be limited. If participants stray off subject, acknowledge the topic by either writing it on a board or verbalizing that you have heard it and will consider it for future meetings and then get back on topic. Listen and watch. Include all participants in the discussion, not only the dominate ones. Ask participants to leave phones outside the room for someone else to answer.
- Summarize. Create a visual record of the meeting by taking notes and at the end summarize action items and identify who will be accountable. Participants should leave knowing what is expected of them and feeling like the meeting was a good use of their time. Afterwards, ask how the meeting went and if it met expectations. Learn while doing.