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New Resource from HC Link: Effective Meetings

I spend a lot of time in meetings: up to 50-80% of my time some weeks. There is nothing worse than spending time in ineffective meetings- while your to-do list grows and grows.  Designing and holding effective meetings is hardly rocket science, however ineffective meetings are a world-wide phenomenon. To the point where you can even purchase ribbons congratulating you for surviving a meeting…..Consider this quote from the Harvard Business Review:

meetingquote

That’s why HC Link created this French resource, which my HC Link colleague Robyn Kalda and I just adapted into English. In this resource, we outline three simple steps for effective meetings:

meeting steps

While, as I mentioned, this is not rocket science, it’s still pretty easy to hold an ineffective meeting. Here are some of the common pitfalls that I often see, and my advice for avoiding them:

  • Holding meetings for the sake of meetings: Set a clear purpose for each meeting. Think carefully about what it is that you need to accomplish, then determine if a meeting is the right mechanism for that. For example, if you simply need to provide an update, that can be done via email. One-on-one conversations might be more appropriate. In other cases, a quick teleconference might be adequate.
  • Not getting the right people around the table: Carefully consider exactly who needs to be in the meeting, given the purpose of the meeting. If decisions are being made at the meeting, ensure that meeting participants are able to make decisions in the meeting. If the meeting is about the implementation of a program/service, ensure that those who are involved in the execution of the program are at the meeting. Also consider if people actually need to be in the meeting, or if you can touch base with them before or after the meeting to provide an update. 
  • Prep work isn’t done ahead of the meeting: If this is a working meeting that depends on meeting participants doing/reviewing work ahead of time, ensure that they have enough time to get their work done before the meeting. Involve participants in the setting of the meeting date. Be willing to postpone the meeting if work isn’t done in time.
  • Unrealistic agendas: I’ll often review agendas for meetings where I think “we’ll be lucky to get through half of these agenda items”. I once had someone tell me that agendas are aspirational – that there is no need to actually finish the entire agenda during a meeting. I respectfully disagree. Be very realistic when you are setting the agenda, and be sure to include timing for each agenda item. It is the chair’s responsibility to keep the agenda on track and on time. However, there is a balance to be struck here: sometimes unexpected discussions need to take place, occasionally I’ve had to toss out entire agendas and start again. It’s important to read the group and be flexible as well.
  • Technology: Technology is a double-edged sword: it can provide a way for participation from other locations; it can also waste precious time in meetings if you are struggling to get the tech working. If you are going to use technology in a meeting, be sure that you have tested everything ahead of time and that participants are familiar with how to use it. A backup plan is a good idea too.
  • Starting late- and often ending late too. Start and end meetings on time. The end.

Now go forth and hold effective meetings! If you need advice, call HC Link! Our consultants love to give advice on how to make your meetings efficient and worthwhile.

Helpful Resources

For a little fun – check out these videos Teleconferences in Real Life and Every Meeting Ever.

HC Link’s Facilitation for Healthy Communities Toolkit and The Power of Reflection: An introduction to participatory evaluation techniques provide many excellent tips and techniques that can be used in meetings.

This excellent article from the Harvard Business Review lists the 6 purposes of meetings and the different types of meetings.

This blog post from GovLeaders.org lists 6 Golden Rules of Meeting Management. 

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