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How to Determine if a Meeting is Necessary and Ensure it is Effective

Posted by Beth Brashear on 12/3/18 8:00 AM
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Photo by: Deutsch via Pixabay

David, can we set up a meeting later today to discuss tomorrow’s meeting on the proposal of having a company-wide meeting?” Does this sound familiar? Okay, so maybe not to that extent, but do you ever feel like there are way too many meetings? Have you ever been to a meeting that went down so many rabbit holes you felt like Alice in Wonderland? Or, attended a meeting that didn’t have a clear objective, so you weren’t sure why you were even there? Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in the workplace: unnecessary, unclear, and unorganized meetings.  


Keep reading for tips and guidelines to help you decide whether a meeting is needed and, if it is, how to ensure it is a valuable use of everyone’s time.  


Should I have a meeting? Ask yourself the following key questions: 


Is there an indisputable need to provide information 

  • YES - Have a meeting  
  • NO - No meeting 


Do at least two team members (not including yourself) need to attend the meeting?  

  • YES - Have a meeting 
  • NO - No meeting 


Can the information be effectively delivered by other means?  

  • YES - No meeting 
  • NO - Have a meeting 


Can all participants attend the meeting without it having a negative impact on their schedules?  

  • YES - Have a meeting 
  • NO - No meeting 


Do you have a clear idea as to what you must accomplish in the meeting?  

  • YES - Have a meeting 
  • NO - No meeting  


For a handy job aid that focuses on the above questions in more detail, check out our Determine if the Session is Necessary checklist. 


After asking the above questions, if you have determined a meeting is needed, these tips will help ensure the meeting is effective 

1. Write and distribute a pre-meeting package. 

  • Distribute a memo identifying the topic of the meeting at least two hours in advance. Ask participants to read the memo and prepare questions and comments.  
  • Include an agenda with time-limits assigned to each item and stick to it! 


2. Prepare point-form notes, if needed, to help keep you on track. 


3. Appoint a scribe.  

  • Assign this role to someone other than yourself.  
  • Record key points and debates, not every detail verbatim.  


4. Encourage an informal, yet professional, atmosphere. 


5. Encourage interaction and feedback.  

  • Devote at least two-thirds of the time to discussion and debate.  


6. Moderate the discussion.  

  • Adhere to the agenda. 
  • Do not allow one person to dominate the discussion.  
  • Watch for early signs of confrontation and defuse the situation properly.  


7. Write and distribute a post-meeting memo.  

  • Include a summary of discussions and results from the scribe’s notes.  
  • Distribute to those who attended the meeting and keep a record for your files.  


Remember, your first step is to determine if a meeting is necessary, then apply the tips above to ensure you conduct an effective meeting. Hopefully, by using these techniques, meetings about meetings will be a thing of the past! 


For fundamental facilitation tools and a structured process that can be applied to any type of facilitated session, whether it is a staff meeting, planning session, or any kind of meeting that you want to be meaningful and productive, our Facilitation Skills for New Facilitators workshop is the perfect place to start.


Tips for Success in the Virtual Classroom

Beth has been a course leader with Langevin since 2015. She currently resides in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Beth began her training career in 2006 and believes, while training needs to be educational, it also needs to be fun! Outside of the classroom, Beth enjoys spending time with her daughter, reading, playing volleyball, photography, and travelling. She hopes to one day visit India during the Festival of Lights, Mexico for the Day of the Dead Celebration, Rio for the Carnival, and China for the Chinese New Year.

Tags: facilitation skills, meetings

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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