Communicating Effectively in Meetings
Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.
Have you been in those meetings where people ramble on and there seems no structure? Or a meeting where people are disinterested and gazing out of the meeting? These meetings can seem a real waste of time and disheartening. I’ve felt on occasion I’d much rather be sitting at my desk getting on with my work than there listening to people moan non-stop about things without coming out with constructive ideas and solutions.
Well here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Do you really need that meeting, what’s the objective of the meeting?
Other avenues you could use are
- Collaboration tools
- Social media
I’ve seen social media used to good effect to get discussion and feedback generated on key areas.
Who are you going to invite? Will they gain from attending and will they contribute? What will you gain from their attendance? I love it when you get the right people in the meeting and ideas are abounding and the meeting is buzzing.
Next is getting the agenda right. How many times have you received a scant agenda that doesn’t tell you a lot and means you don’t go prepared to the meeting. It makes the meeting feel like a real waste of time. A good agenda includes:
And what about those meetings with the person who incessantly talks and no-one can get a word in edgeways? I’ve seen this totally derail the meeting and prevent other ideas from being shared. As chair you need to politely interrupt the person stating you need to hear some other thoughts. Often the person is unaware of how they are coming across and it can need a friendly feedback session after the meeting to resolve the issue for future meetings.
Don’t forget to send the agenda out in advance– I’ve forgotten in the past when time has run away from me! Again attendees are then totally unprepared and I’ve even see them leave the meeting to get the relevant information!
Lastly the Chairperson’s leadership style is crucial. In the meeting you are leading a temporary team to success.
O’Neill (2000) shared what he saw effective leadership as:
- Providing meaning and purpose
- Concentrating on the right things to do
- Creating the right environment to achieve the organisation’s goals
- Creating motivation to do things readily
- Facilitating responsibility across the team
- Empowerment to do what’s right
- Building people’s confidence
- Developing/embracing cultural change
Meredith Belbin (1993) adds to what effective leadership is by suggesting:
- Working on diversity
- Grow and nurture talent
- Develop people
- Creating goals
So consider your strengths as Chair and consider where you could develop to aid chairing meetings, in turn this will aid your general leadership, so it’s a win: win.
So a few tips to try with meetings you run, you are probably already doing most of them but it is always worth getting some feedback on your meetings as over time we can slip into bad habits or evolve a particular style that doesn’t fit with everyone. Good luck and hope your meetings are a success.