A meeting is effective when it:
- achieves its objectives,
- in a minimum amount of time, and
- to the satisfaction of the participants.
There may be a number of outcomes:
- Task: information sharing and discussion, decision making, allocation of tasks and resources, monitoring of budget and time, and evaluation,
- Team: belonging, improving or renewing group identity, team spirit, and commitment, and
- Individual: recognizing skills, knowledge or effort, building friendship and esteem, transferring new skills and knowledge, and advancing career.
We recommend that each of the above categories be considered when setting meeting agendas.
The three components of effective team meetings
Good meetings have three components:
1. Content -
- information is elicited
- discussions are kept on topic
- debates are welcome
- summaries of decisions and actions are given.
2. Interaction -
- participation is encouraged and monitored
- supportive and encouraging behavior is modelled
- differing points of view are welcome
- conflict is managed and resolved
- reactions and feelings are valued.
3. Structure -
- there is an agenda with stated objectives and timing
- there are procedures for information transfer, creative thinking, decision making, conflict resolution, and assigning tasks.
Why do we need agendas and meeting chairs?
"A meeting is an event where the minutes are kept and the hours are lost." (Unknown)
1-Prepare an agenda for the meeting - meetings where there is no agenda will drift off topic, miss important issues, and generally waste everyone's time.
The agenda should identify the order in which issues will be discussed and assign a time for discussion of each issue. The penultimate item is usually 'Other business' and this is a catchall for things that have not been explicitly identified in the agenda. (The last item is generally 'Date of next meeting'.)
2-Elect a meeting chair - It's the chair's responsibility to ensure that:
- agenda items are dealt with within the allotted time;
- discussions stay on point (sidebar conversations should be stopped and directed to 'Other business');
- no one attendee dominates the discussion; and
- everyone has a voice.
3-Ensure that you have invited the right people.