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6 Tips for Effective Meeting Management

Have you ever found yourself in a meeting that lacked clear direction and purpose? Perhaps it went on and on with nothing accomplished other than the need to schedule yet another meeting? Or, worst of all, did the participants do more talking over each other than collaborating and partnering in order to achieve a common goal that all could, at the very least, live with?

To help change this common trend in government, Michelle Mock, Principal Consultant and owner of Collaborative Thinking, shared a series of tips for “Managing Effective Meetings” during a Tuesday breakout session at the 2015 Next Generation of Government Training Summit.

Tip 1 – Get in a +1 State of Mind

Before the meeting, Michelle recommends ensuring that your body language, thoughts and emotions help you communicate in a focused, present, open, curious, calm, engaged and positive manner – or the “+1 State of Mind”. According to Alexander Caillet and Chris Wahl, leading experts in organizational coaching and consulting, this is the most effective way to lead a meeting.

Tip 2 – Plan with P.O.P.

When planning a meeting, ensure that you’ve identified the Purpose, Outcomes, and Process of your meeting, or the P.O.P.

Purpose – Clarify the need to meet and what will be accomplished at your meeting.

Outcome – Be clear on what the take away will be. For example, will a decision be made? Is the outcome that participants will be informed? Or, is the meeting outcome an action plan or a set of next steps and accountabilities?

Process – Be specific about the methods you’ll use to reach your desired outcome and the amount of time you plan to spend on each step in the process. This is just another way to say, “Have a clear agenda with deliverables and timing”.

If your desired outcome is to generate ideas, then your process might be to have your group brainstorm and explore questions. Perhaps you’re looking to connect others and foster more engagement in the workforce? In this instance, Team Building and Relationship Building activities are great options to explore! However, if you’re seeking to make decisions, Michelle recommends these six steps:

  1. Declare the Process.
  2. Review Data.
  3. Test Assumptions.
  4. Ask Questions.
  5. Make Decisions (Vote, Consensus, or Leader Informed)
  6. Gain Shared Commitment from all participants (even those that disagree with the decision).

Tip 3 – Tighten Up the Room

To help your meeting stay on track from start to finish, Ms. Mock recommends being intentional about meeting attendance and ensuring that the players in the room add real value to the proceedings. To support this dynamic, Michelle recommends RACI charts as a go-to planning tool. RACI charts help clearly delineate who will be Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed in your meeting.

She also suggests thinking thoughtfully about the time, technology, and venue needed to accomplish your meeting goals and creating an environment where introverts and extroverts alike can be themselves and share their thoughts authentically. Remember that while “introverts think to speak, extroverts speak to think” – so use processes that allow both to thrive and participate thoughtfully in meetings.

Tip 4 – Open with P.O.P.

To ensure a smooth opening, consider these tactics:

  1. Review the Purpose, Outcomes and Process of the meeting with participants.
  2. Articulate and explain specific roles that you and your participants will play.
  3. Set ground rules for the proceedings. You can even ask the group to define the ground rules they need.
  4. Gain agreement from participants to respectfully follow the ground rules. (Example: “Actively listen, be open to new possibilities, and agree not to use phones during the meeting”.)

Tip 5 – Moderate and Close with Confidence

When moderating your meeting, use technology, visual aids and humor effectively to keep participants engaged. When conflict arises, moderate collaborative problem solving conversations with the group in order to achieve consensus and agreements about next steps and duties.

During the closing portion of your meeting, summarize and review the key ideas and decisions made, review and confirm noted group actions (i.e. who will accomplish what by when), and solicit feedback on the effectiveness of the meeting and how it can be improved.

Tip 6 – Follow Up with Finesse

To avoid hearing the phrase “Now, what we did say we were gonna do” or “What did we talk about last time” at your next meeting, Michelle offers these final tips to ensure that your follow-up activities are executed with finesse and professionalism:

  1. Ensure the completion of meeting actions in a timely manner.
  2. Follow up with attendees and notify them when action have been completed or remain outstanding.
  3. Provide positive feedback to attendees (as appropriate).
  4. Provide constructive feedback to attendees (as appropriate).

To learn more about Collaborative Thinking, a company where “coaches and consultants work with leaders and teams to create healthier, smarter and happier productive organizations”, please visit http://ct-leadership.com/.

Now, go forth and rock your next meeting!

From July 20th – 21st we’ll be blogging from GovLoop and YGL’s Next Generation of Government Training Summit. Follow along @NextGenGov and read more blog posts here.

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