Conducting a successful meeting takes careful planning, as well as the ability to inform and hold the interest of attendees. Try following guidelines that can help both you and everyone at the meeting to come away with the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Some people who plan meetings will arrive early and mix with attendees before the program starts. This will establish familiarity, which is not always a positive situation. It’s usually best to arrive at the meeting without any socialization, so that you may establish your role of leader effectively.
It can be compared to an actor who’ll portray Hamlet in a theater. If he came down into the audience and chatted with patrons first, his ordinary guy exposure would spoil the illusion he wants to create on stage.
Your arrival at your meeting without any preliminary chatting will create an aura of respect for you by attendees. Of course, when the meeting is completed, and if required, when you have a question and answer period, you may present a more friendly and familiar attitude.
While conducting your meeting, be prepared thoroughly with your material to speak mostly without referring to notes. That way you can make eye contact with attendees and present your material most effectively.
If other people are participating in the meeting, as leader you must keep control of the amount of time each person speaks. If possible, you should meet with other participants beforehand and go over the schedule you will follow. Make it clear you’re in charge and will be fair to other participants, but all must follow your pre-arranged schedule and total time allowed.
If you’ll be using audio-visual materials, be sure to go over them thoroughly before the meeting, so that you will operate the equipment without embarrassing breakdowns. The same care should be applied if you’re using a blackboard or series of paper charts.
Keep the meeting businesslike at all times. If you allow it to deteriorate into frequent interruptions, you’ll lose the respect of attendees and the meeting effectiveness could be compromised. If any attendees deliberately and rudely interrupt, neutralize it quickly. Tell the person the behavior won’t be tolerated, and if it persists, ask the person to leave.
This kind of problem may most likely happen when you open the meeting to questions and answers. Before you accept the first question, tell attendees that time is limited and you’ll only accept a few brief questions.
When you decide to conclude the meeting, thank the attendees for their courtesy and attention. If you intend to hold a significant number of other meetings, it may be of value to set up a video camera to record your current one. Then, use it as a reference for improving your performance at the next sessions.
Leading a successful meeting takes literally the meaning of the word: leader. To earn the attendees respect and cooperation, you must establish that you are in complete charge from the moment you open the meeting.