"Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything."
 -- John Kenneth Galbraith (1908 - )
Much time and effort is spent in meetings.  Costs for bringing people together are high.  The results of this communication need to be optimized by making the effort as fruitful as possible.
By following basic rules, people find their time respected and positive results are generated. 

1.     Be sure to invite the people necessary for success.
Projects need to have human resources in terms of thinking and performance.  The meeting develops the team. 

The right people need to be present.  No more, no less.  Inviting unnecessary people wastes their time.  Missing key principals makes the meeting weak.

2.     Have a clear agenda. 
Be sure team members know the purpose of the meeting and can come prepared to give their best input.

A prearranged agenda makes people more prepared.  They are able to consider issues in advance and offer their best advice. If there are handouts, they may be more advantageous in advance as well.  With the agenda, control and focus are maintained during the function.

3.     Let individuals know their value and develop what
their role is.
Ask for specific action and preparation so people can deliver according to expectations. 

Tell people their roles.  Let them feel appreciated and valued. When they understand the expectations of them and their role at a meeting, they are more able to deliver results. 

4.     Control the situation.
Since everyone has the same agenda, keep the group on schedule and on task.  Socializing and discussion have their place as long as they contribute to overall performance. 

Focus the meeting on the agenda.  Don't waste time.  Meetings should start and end on time  By maintaining the agenda, the most constructive use can be made of the allotted time. 

5.     Facilitate the meeting.
Encourage ideas and support.  Build up strategies and team members. Avoid the extremes of dominating or complete laissez-faire. 

Leadership allows for time and resource management.  By facilitating the meeting, all voices may be heard.  Control can be exercised to allow for everyone's input. 

6.     Adopt parliamentary procedures or structures to manage operations.
People need to share, but a framework of order assures that everyone can be fairly heard. 

When rules and structures are clear, everyone can operate fairly and offer suggestions.  Procedure and structure prevent free-for-all, formless discussions. 

7.     Have realistic expectations.
Group dynamics develop.  Communication can be expected at different levels as the team comes together. 

Groups have personalities that develop through contact and interaction.  Allow for the personality to emerge and the group dynamics to mature.

8.     Allow for disagreement and respectful levels of conflict.
The purpose of a meeting is to consider alternatives and different points of view. 

Managed conflict is part of meetings.  Different opinions and ideas make groups stronger.  They allow for greater degrees of creativity and more considered decision-making. 

9.     Appreciate people both individually and collectively.
Thank everyone for his or her time, efforts, and contributions. Be certain that everyone knows they are important to progress and continuing action. 

Make certain people feel that their time and input is valued. When they feel appreciated, they are more involved mentally and emotionally.

10.    Manage today and tomorrow.
Confirm results, roles and expected action.  Set the tone and framework for future meetings.  Generate written minutes. 

Remember the follow-up with paperwork.  Documentation establishes a track record and sets the direction for the future. 

Copyright 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 by Thomas J. Leonard
1.     Check your calendar for the meetings you are running this week.

2.     Choose 3 ideas from this Top 10 to implement.

3.     Ask for feedback from participants after the meeting.  Were your         changes noticed, appreciated, effective? 

4.     Next week:   Repeat 1 - 3

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