Meetings are a necessity to promote good communication in any business. Well run, focused and organized meetings offer the opportunity to insure that all the participants are engaged in a cooperative effort. On the other hand – disorganized meetings with no well defined goals inhibit positive communication and lead the participants to wonder if the organizers of the meeting really know what they are doing. We’ve probably all experienced that that feeling! Let’s review a few essentials for a well organized meeting that will promote positive communication and insure that participants leave with renewed enthusiasm and determination. Most people are well aware of the first three items, although they are too often ignored. However, even the most efficient meeting often is ineffective because it ended without finalizing the experience.
1. Identify the goal of the meeting. It is critical to identify what information is being shared or what decisions are going to be made. It is also important to reflect on what knowledge the participants will have acquired after they leave. The communication must start prior to the meeting.
2. Establish an agenda. Set the time. It is just as important to set an end time as it is the start time. Otherwise the meeting turns into a session that loses its’ purpose. Identify the leader and the participants and all should know what they are expected to bring to the meeting. Communication efforts that are not well planned in advance will only hinder the communication that takes place during the meeting.
3. Maintain the focus of the meeting. It is not uncommon for meetings to be lengthy and meandering because participants are allowed to inject information or opinion that is not salient to the goal of communication that was identified for this particular meeting. A strong and determined leader is necessary for the most effective communication outcome.
4. Finalize the experience! Summarize the results of the meeting before the participants depart. It is incumbent on the leader to complete this most critical step to successful communication. Highlight the information that has been shared. Thank the participants for their efforts and point out what the attendees are now to do with this information. Repeat clearly what decisions have been made. This is not a rehash of the meeting but the identification of any new responsibilities or deadlines that may have been imposed. Ask specific questions to establish that all attendees understand their specific goals and the time frames for completion or compliance. Point out what coordination may have to take place between individuals or departments. If important decisions have been made, set the time for the next meeting and clarify what is expected to be accomplished in the intervening period. Clarify any questions that have been raised.