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How to get the Most out of Meetings: Quick Tips on Leading and Participating in Small Business Meetings


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A series of quick and practical tips on how to more effectively lead or participate in small business meetings, based on my 30+ years experience in both the public and private sectors.

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How to get the Most out of Meetings: Quick Tips on Leading and Participating in Small Business Meetings

  1. 1. How to Get the Most out ofMeetingsQuick Tips on Leading and Participating inSmall Business MeetingsBy Gary Vaughan, PMPSenior SharePoint and Knowledge Management AdvisorMy LinkedIn Profileglvconsulting@hotmail.comWashington, D.C.April 27, 2013
  2. 2. First…Do you Need a Meeting?• Alternatives to in-person small group* meetings:– Email exchange– Teleconference– Online webinars– Stand-ups, or…– Consult with stakeholders one-on-one (a la Columbo!)– Less preparation, less time…but less engagement!• Benefits of sit-down meetings– Communication, accountability, energy…teamwork*a “small group” defined as roughly 10-15 people
  3. 3. Basic Meeting Tips• Quick “Do’s”– Set meeting ground rules, assign tasks– State clear purpose, agenda (feedback!)– Be mindful of attendees’ “stakes”– Start and end on time (and “cue” last 10 min.) Be Prepared!: advance agenda, consultations,handouts, room arrangements, and IT set-up
  4. 4. More Basic Meeting Tips…• Be a good facilitator:– Ask open vs. close-ended questions– Summarize discussion at times– “Herd the cats”• Stay on topic, balance folks’ participation• Take minutes…or ask for a volunteer!Sense a meeting’s mood…humor can help!
  5. 5. Basic Meeting “Don’ts”• Don’t…– Come unprepared– Oversteer or manipulate a meeting– Talk too much!– Comment “out of turn” vs. timing your inputs– Be neither “unprofessional”…nor “boring” Don’t “just sit there” in a bad meeting! …but helpas an an active leader or participant
  6. 6. Types of Meetings• Conferences, workshops, small meetings• Formal (official) vs. Informal (give-and-take)• Events– Dinners, receptions– Trade shows, exhibits– Square tables or “knowledge cafes”– Adapt type meeting to your purpose! Good meetings are positive, informative, and action-oriented
  7. 7. Choose Your Physical Venue• Good scheduling and meeting duration• Appropriate location: a “full house” best• Power of standing…seated…at table head• Use of computer, handouts, flip chartsA virtual, online venue also important forrecords, discussion between meetings
  8. 8. Know Your Audience…• Target key stakeholders vs. just “fill a room”• But often turnout matters (a “full house” givesimportance, energy, credibility)!• Aim for good attendance mix (ages, gender,expertise, bosses, staff…”like a good party”)Best meetings are when everyone contributes
  9. 9. Lead from the Chair…or the Floor!• You can “lead” meeting regardless of role• Idea is to use everyone’s time economically• leader as a “credible, honest broker”• Most meetings are fluid…guide the flow!• Leadership may vary - depending…: morepassive (briefing) vs. decisive (tasks)Good leadership and followership are key!
  10. 10. Getting off to a good start…• If you chair, state purpose, expectations• Use intro’s as segways to meeting agenda• Chat for rapport…but not to distract• Agenda as a rough guide…but not “lockstep”• Share agendas (usually!) before vs. at meeting• A good start “builds energy” for positivediscussion and endin consensus, results
  11. 11. Going with the Flow…• Meeting less “run” than “moderated”• Use looks, gestures…interrupt to keep on track• Build on someone’s idea, integrate others’• Close with summary…or ask someone to.• Roles: present, question, integrate…”zoned”, bomb-throw!• A good meeting is like a “play” with “actors”
  12. 12. Measuring Meeting Success• Some “common sense” indicators of success– High energy, active participation, good flow– If able chair, your points seized, expanded– People tend to stay behind, if a success– By contrast, a problem if folks dozing or leavingIf a problem, ask for help, “how is thismeeting going”?
  13. 13. Meeting Technology• Outlook is your friend – agendas, notes• But archive info online (e.g. SharePoint)• Value of online task lists, schedules• For virtual meetings:– Webinars – video, threaded discussions (e.g.Adobe Connect)– Online invitations, agendas (e.g. eVite)Virtual and Physical Meetings Can beComplementary, not “either-or” options
  14. 14. Meeting Resources• How to Run a Meeting, Harvard Business Review,Anthony Jay (abstract)• Teams vs. Communites of Practice, RichardMcDermott• My thanks for early ideas for this piece from myconsulting colleague, Tom LeonhardtLearn by meeting at work: notice people’s roles!Practice at an outside Toastmasters Club - publicspeaking and meeting skills at a nominal cost