Top 10 Tips For Running Effective Meetings

Improving People, Performance and Profits
___________________________________________________________________________
Top 10 Tips
For Running Effective Meetings
Consultrix Ltd is a consultancy which helps small and medium size businesses to set and achieve their
business goals and objectives. In my role as MD I both run and attend many meetings and my 10 Tips
below are a summary of best practice based on many years experience.
Holding meetings today is hugely expensive as they typically involve highly skilled, well paid
workers who may have travelled long distances to be at the meeting. Badly run meetings can,
therefore, waste time, money, resources and are probably worse than holding no meetings at all.
Many managers and business owners have unrealistic expectations about how a meeting should be
run. They think, "We'll just have a free flowing, open, brainstorming type of meeting and lots of good
ideas will come out,'" says Glenn Parker, a team building consultant and the author of Meeting
Excellence: 33 Tools to Lead Meetings That Get Results. The truth is that you will need to identify
and run many different types of meetings during your career and to run them well you will need to
modify your leadership style to match.
All Agencies need to maximise the return they make from running meetings and hopefully the
following ten tips may help you to do just that. The first thing you need to do is:
1. Prepare, prepare and prepare some more
Well run meetings are always well prepared, controlled and followed up
2. Decide on the type of meeting you want to run
a. Action-oriented meetings are needed to solve pressing, or time-sensitive problems.
Ensure attendees come prepared and willing to defend their ideas fiercely
b. Brainstorming or creative meetings are often run to generate ideas. Try and create a
space with enough resources to encourage free flowing and imaginative thought but
still within time constraints
c. Short-term planning meetings usually involve a lot of team interaction between
functions so you need to make sure that everyone understands why they are meeting,
what the expected outcomes are and how you intend to communicate the resultant
plans to all relevant parties
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Head Office for Consultrix Ltd
Head office address: Bennath, Back Lane, Blunsdon, Wilts SN26 7BJ
Head Office Tel: 01793 726128 London Tel: 020 7409 7398
Registered Address: 43-45 Devizes Road, Swindon SN1 4BG; Registered company in England and Wales No. 05172205
Page 1 of 5
Improving People, Performance and Profits
___________________________________________________________________________
d. Long-term planning meetings (e.g. Visions and strategic plans) usually include
directors and senior managers. As lots of people can mean lots of opportunity for
digression and irrelevance it is best to use a Chairperson to facilitate the meeting. In
subsequent meetings you can then share your new Vision etc with employees or
create a forum for employees to discuss how they think they can help the company
meet its goals
3. Choose between on-line or face-to-face meetings
New technology means that we no longer need to meet face-to-face; instead we can use
mobile and web-based phone and video-conferencing. Whilst such virtual meetings save time
and money there will always be a trade-off between such efficiencies and the imperfections of
remote communication methods. As Mehrabian has pointed out, it is hard to convey body
language and facial expressions effectively by phone or video conferencing.
It is important to ensure that your meeting methods are appropriate for the situation. Physical
face-to-face meetings are the most effective type of meetings for conveying feelings and
meanings. Don’t hold a virtual meeting about a very serious matter otherwise you may lose
the meaning and feelings leaving people lost or confused.
Trying to save time and money by holding virtual meetings for serious matters may be a false
economy for the organisation, and could be very unfair to employees if the matter
significantly affects their personal futures or well-being.
Remember the aim and test of a well run meeting is that whatever the subject, people feel
(afterwards) that it took care of their needs, as well as the items on the agenda.
4. Consider your Venue carefully
Meeting venues need to reflect the type of meeting you want to run. Confidential meetings
should not be held in public places whereas brain-storming meetings could be held in a
multitude of places. Whatever the meetings objectives the venues’ environment should be
considered including the temperature, noise levels, privacy, comfort, catering etc.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Head Office for Consultrix Ltd
Head office address: Bennath, Back Lane, Blunsdon, Wilts SN26 7BJ
Head Office Tel: 01793 726128 London Tel: 020 7409 7398
Registered Address: 43-45 Devizes Road, Swindon SN1 4BG; Registered company in England and Wales No. 05172205
Page 2 of 5
Improving People, Performance and Profits
___________________________________________________________________________
5. Control your Agenda
Always think about agendas carefully (whilst allowing a certain amount of flexibility) as they
should be sent to attendees in advance allowing them to prepare for the meeting and to focus
on outcomes.
A typical Agenda for regular formal meetings e.g. Board meetings might be:

Welcome

Apologies

Minutes of the previous meeting

Matters arising from the previous minutes

Formal agenda items might be:
o
Last month’s management accounts
o
New business report
o
Current year forecasts
o
Client services review
o
Operational Matters
o
Personnel Matters
o
Strategic planning issues

Any Other Business

Confirmation of Action points

Date, time and place of the next meeting
Remember, Agendas and formal discussion papers should be sent out in advance of Board
meetings to allow attendees time to read the documents and prepare their thoughts and
questions; otherwise your board meetings could turn into a “talking shop”.
An agenda for a one-off problem solving meeting might include:

Summary of the meeting’s objectives

List of presentations – usually such one-off presentations are not sent out in advance
of meetings as they cannot contain the detail alluded to by a presenter and so can be
distracting or misleading

Reminder of the amount of time available for discussions arising from the
presentations
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Head Office for Consultrix Ltd
Head office address: Bennath, Back Lane, Blunsdon, Wilts SN26 7BJ
Head Office Tel: 01793 726128 London Tel: 020 7409 7398
Registered Address: 43-45 Devizes Road, Swindon SN1 4BG; Registered company in England and Wales No. 05172205
Page 3 of 5
Improving People, Performance and Profits
___________________________________________________________________________
6. Invite the “right” people
Do not be tempted to invite everyone you can think of to your meeting. Instead invite as few
people as possible and preferably those with a vested interested in the agenda. If you have too
many people you will find it difficult to get a consensus or to control your meeting.
7. Responsibilities of a Chair/Facilitator
It is always best to decide in advance who will be the Chair/Facilitator as they will be charged
with:

Guiding the meeting to ensure it starts and ends on time (including breaks)

Controlling the timings of presentations and managing question and answer sessions

Welcoming attendees and potentially making introductions

Listing ground rules (see below)

Facilitating discussions and managing the “temperature” of the meeting

Assigning a note taker to make an official record of the meeting so that inaccuracies
and inconsistencies can be identified immediately

Clarifying “Actions” and ensuring that they are SMART (Specific, Measurable,
Achievable, Realistic, Timed)
8. The Chair/Facilitator should always have, and remind everyone of, the meeting’s
“Ground Rules”
Ground Rules should cover the following:

Respect for others – no interruptions, long monologues or personal abuse and let
everyone express their views

Confidentiality – agree whether specific meeting content can be discussed outside
the meeting or not

Responsibility – everybody agrees to take responsibility for timekeeping, keeping to
the agenda and voicing their opinions in the meeting rather than afterwards

Decision-making – agree how decisions are to be made (consensus or voting) and if
consensus can’t be achieved, at what point will alternative decision-making methods
be used, and who will decide

Use data to make points – not politics

Ownership – everyone takes accountability for their own behaviour and actions
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Head Office for Consultrix Ltd
Head office address: Bennath, Back Lane, Blunsdon, Wilts SN26 7BJ
Head Office Tel: 01793 726128 London Tel: 020 7409 7398
Registered Address: 43-45 Devizes Road, Swindon SN1 4BG; Registered company in England and Wales No. 05172205
Page 4 of 5
Improving People, Performance and Profits
___________________________________________________________________________
9. Content
Many meetings may need the presentation of supporting documentation to help a speaker
make a point, or to explain complex issues. Try and make your information relevant, concise
and understandable. If you can, try different methods for presenting your data. Don’t assume
you always have to use PowerPoint but it if you do use it make sure you follow some cardinal
rules:

Minimise the number of slides you use

Try to use visual images encouraging the audience to listen to you - rather than
reading the slides

Never give out copies of your slides before making your presentation

Minimise the number of words on each page

Don’t read the words on the slides

Think about what sort of questions you might be asked and consider relevant
responses

Practice your presentation before the meeting and, if you can, do so in front of a
trusted audience who will tell you whether your presentation is relevant, well
presented and easy to understand
10. Follow up
Always circulate minutes of important meetings and ensure that they and “to-do” lists are
circulated as quickly as possible after the meeting as it tends to ensure that actions get
attended to promptly. Remember that “to-do” lists should include who is responsible for
action
Top 10 Tips…. delivered for the DBA by Allison McSparron-Edwards
allison@consultrix.co.uk
www.consultrix.co.uk
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Head Office for Consultrix Ltd
Head office address: Bennath, Back Lane, Blunsdon, Wilts SN26 7BJ
Head Office Tel: 01793 726128 London Tel: 020 7409 7398
Registered Address: 43-45 Devizes Road, Swindon SN1 4BG; Registered company in England and Wales No. 05172205
Page 5 of 5