You can make a difference by leading meetings that get results. Start with these pre-planning tips for a concise collaboration:
First, define your purpose. Why are you having the meeting? Ask yourself the Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? Is it narrow in scope, or will it cover many topics? How much time is needed? Should it be covered in more than one session?
Reserve the meeting place in advance and be sure you have everything necessary: tables, chairs, speaker phone, audio-visual equipment, etc. If a presentation is involved, test the equipment at least an hour before the meeting. Faulty equipment steals credibility and wastes time.
Send a proactive e-mail to your group. Don't just tell them, "The workforce development meeting is Friday at 10:00 in the conference room."
This leaves too much for interpretation by your group. Which Friday? How long is the meeting so they can plan their workday? What do they need to do to prepare for the meeting? Is there more than one conference room? Once you've got the essentials, put the main points in bold to reinforce your message and make it easy for them to see and hard to miss.
The revised e-mail effectively reads: "Our workforce development meeting is Friday, November 13, 2015, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the first floor conference room. Please come prepared to discuss topics for upcoming seminars for the middle school and high school students.”
Take charge and maintain control of your meeting with these guidelines:
Bring your topic outline to the meeting. It will help you to keep focused and stay on track.
Begin on time. If anyone will be late, they need to tell you. Don't allow them to disrupt the meeting, and don't stop and reiterate everything they missed. It's their responsibility to get the information after the meeting. You're not there to babysit.
Keep to the timeframe and don't let it run over.
Encourage your group to share their ideas and viewpoints, and be sure to give credit. They’ll be more likely to contribute if they’re acknowledged and appreciated. It will also help discourage credit-stealing.
Make sure that everyone has a chance to participate. If there are yakkers in the group who won't stop talking, don’t let them dominate the discussion. Take control with: I hear what you're saying, but let's also hear from the rest of the group. Conversely, if there's a wallflower who's reluctant to talk or can't get a word in edgewise, you need to help the person be heard: Jane, what do you think about this?
If the group gets off the subject, you need to reign them in: That's interesting, but let's refocus on the subject. We left off discussing the issue of .......
If group members are confrontational or upset, help them to calm down. They may just be frustrated over an issue, or they might intend to create drama or conflict. Depending on the issue, you can respond accordingly with: We'd like to hear from you, but you need to calm down. What part of this is upsetting you? Or, This is a collaborative meeting, and if we're going to criticize, it needs to be objective. If they continue to get out of control, you can ask the person(s) to leave and return when they're calm. Talk with them directly after the meeting and settle any issues.
If you must delegate project responsibilities to your group, find out their top strengths and delegate appropriately. Give them clear and concise instructions, the resources to do their jobs, and the deadlines. Before anyone leaves, ask if anyone has questions and make sure they know what they're accountable for and when.
By following these tips, your team should leave energized and ready to roll up their sleeves. You’ll be known as an effective leader, which is another credit to your management portfolio.