One crucial skill all leaders should master is the ability to run an effective meeting. However, this skill doesn’t always come naturally to everybody. In fact, many people don’t even realize what they’re missing until they have gone through meeting effectiveness training. Until then, they assume that the way they have always done it is the best way, or at least good enough. However, leading a truly effective meeting is often a different experience entirely.
To ensure the most efficient and productive meetings possible, it’s best to provide hands-on training that teaches individuals how to run effective meetings from start to finish. The ideal training program will teach your leaders how to:
Filter Meeting Information
A lot of information can be shared during the course of a meeting, but not all of it is valuable. Effective meeting leaders understand how to accurately and efficiently gather the most important information during a meeting. With this skill, they can deliver concise notes that allow participants to recall what happened during the meeting with clarity and accuracy.
A meeting should be a gathering of the people who are most able to address the topic at hand. It therefore stands to reason that each person should have the opportunity to contribute. Successful meeting leaders are those who learn how to gather reasoned and rational input from others in the meeting. They understand how to generate feedback from all involved parties. This includes learning techniques for giving quiet people the space to share their thoughts in a way that is not intimidating.
It is not uncommon for people to go off on tangents during the course of a meeting. In some ways, this can be seen as a positive outcome because it is evidence of ideas being sparked. However, it is not necessarily the appropriate time and place for discussions that don’t focus on the meeting goal. Good meeting leaders recognize when a diversion is happening and determine whether it is beneficial to the meeting objectives. If it’s not, they have the skills to refocus meeting participants on the objective at hand and capture the topic of the tangent so it can be addressed through a different channel or at another meeting.
Make Actionable Decisions
Unless the purpose of a meeting is purely sharing information, it’s likely that decisions will have to be made. Effective meeting leaders learn how to elicit decisions from the appropriate parties or get consensus from the group. Once decisions are made, leaders capture them in meeting notes so there is a clear reference.
Assign Tasks and Outcomes
The tasks that are generated from a meeting should be specific and time-bound so people understand what they are being asked to do and are accountable for doing it within a specific time frame. A great meeting leader will also identify a person who is responsible for following up to confirm progress on the tasks that were assigned. If there is a follow-up meeting, this is an opportunity to check in on assigned tasks to ensure that they will be complete before the next meeting.
An Ideal Approach to Meeting Effectiveness Training: Experiential Learning
For many people, practicing new approaches to any task can be intimidating when doing it in real life with coworkers or clients. Hands-on training allows participants to test new skills in an environment that doesn’t have real-world consequences. They can learn from their mistakes, see the real-time effects of behavior change, and observe the benefits of running an effective meeting. This increases the chance that they will change their behaviors and apply new skills because they have the confidence that they will be effective.
Learning how to run an effective meeting takes practice, but it delivers tremendous benefits. When it comes to effective meeting training, experiential learning provides more than just a checklist or step-by-step instructions. It demonstrates the benefits of effective meetings and provides the opportunity to practice the required skills in a low-risk environment. Leaders will enter meetings with the confidence that the time they are spending will produce valuable results and help get them closer to achieving organizational goals.
To learn more about how you can adopt these best practices in your organization, get started with our free resource, A Guide to Running Effective Meetings.