Can you relate to this statement or have you ever found that the best meetings are held in the car park following what should have been the meeting? Whenever the subject of meetings surfaces these seem to be very common reactions.

I have a friend who is very vocal regarding her dislike of meetings. However, delving beneath the surface I discovered it was not meetings themselves that she disliked but rather poorly run meetings which go over time, never get through the agenda or like above end up being discussed and completed in the car park afterwards.

So – what can be done to ensure that meetings are successful and achieve the goals they set out to achieve? I believe well run and successful meetings are the result of three factors.

1. Preparation
2. Good communication skills, and
3. The ability to respond to impromptu questions.

You can prepare for the meeting by firstly, reading the agenda. I know that sounds basic but you would be surprised by how many meetings I attend where no-one has even glanced at the agenda – let alone prepared for their segment.

Prepare for the items on the agenda for which you are responsible, know what else is being discussed, check what might impact on your special area and do your research. Coming into the meeting prepared will ensure that your input is competent and timely. Preparation will lessen any surprises that may come your way. It will assist in ensuring that your meetings are productive.

Knowing how meetings are run and the procedures involved will assist in dissipating any nerves or fear. Yes fear, some people really fear meetings and at heart it is because of lack of knowledge of terms and procedures. They will often sit at the meeting too worried about meeting technicalities to take part in the meeting. N E Rentons, Guide for Meetings and Organisations Vol 2 Meetings, is a good book to look at to get an overview of meeting procedures.

Good communication skills are essential to your input in a meeting. Good communication skills will assist in presenting your report, persuading attendees to your viewpoint or even in airing your objections. Brush up your public speaking skills – they will give you the confidence to stand up and present your point. Vocal skills and gestures will add impact to your message especially if you are passionate in getting that motion moved, action passed or money spent. Knowing how to organise your thoughts and present them will ensure that your message is conveyed in the time frame given. No rambling, no speaking for 10 minutes when it should be 5 minutes, no more waffling and no more ums and ers.

Practice your listening skills so that when you are asked that impromptu question you answer the question that is asked not the one you think you heard. Learn how to compose your thoughts quickly and competently so that the answer can be presented in a logical, concise, competent and clear manner.

Meetings are a vital communication tool. Good meetings produce positive results. They can clarify understanding, generate ideas, reinforce goals and objectives, disseminate information and stimulate action. Bad meetings can produce chaos.

Try putting into place these three factors and perhaps next time your meeting will be conducted at the meeting and not in the car park afterwards. Need some help – look at some of Trischel’s workshops.

“If an organisation has a meeting then the meeting should have organisation. A meeting should never be an event at which minutes are kept while hours are lost.” From a speech by N. E. Renton

Trish @ Trischel

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