Making Meetings More Productive

Improving focus, contribution, outputs and overall effectiveness

Meetings are one of the most common forms of daily communication and can be a good way of conducting business. In addition to work-based meetings, you may be involved in social committees, parent/teacher associations, resident campaign groups etc.

It has been estimated that up to four million working hours a day are spent in meetings in the UK alone. Senior managers can spend up to 60% of their time behind closed doors. It is worth considering how much all these meetings cost.

But what is more thought provoking is just how much is wasted through ineffective and poorly managed meetings. All too often meetings drift along with too little focus, purpose or outcomes, indeed virtually everyone will at some point have come out of a meeting feeling, that was a waste of time.

If you calculate what you are paid by the hour and multiply that figure by the total number of hours per month spent in meetings, you will have some idea of how much it costs an organisation to have your involvement in meetings. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg and, of course, some participants may be unwaged.

Other costs may include:-

  • Salaries of all the other participants
  • Administration before and afterwards
  • Preparation time
  • Travel costs
  • Venue/office accommodation
  • Equipment, stationery, printing and postage costs
  • Telephone charges
  • Refreshments
  • Opportunity costs – i.e. what you could have been doing if you were not at a meeting

We need to also be clear about when a meeting is the best way of taking something forward and which sort of meeting fits the circumstances. Not all meetings are the same. They have different purposes; some can be relatively small and informal, while others can be formal and highly structured. Meetings can be divided into six main types and/or a blend of these types.

  • Information Gathering
  • Information Giving
  • Persuading
  • Negotiating
  • Problem Solving
  • Decision Making

Each of these possesses certain features and has particular uses but the one thing that underpins effectiveness in every case is the ability of the meeting chair person to manage, direct and control the meeting so to delivers the planned results.

This workshop teaches you how

For Whom

This fast paced and fun one-day workshop is for managers and staff at all levels or have to chair or are likely to chair meetings in the near future. It is for those managers and staff who want to get the maximum benefit from their meetings and the minimum of wasted time.

The workshop also offers benefits to those who have to chair meetings in their personal life

The workshops is suitable for representatives from all businesses, organisations, clubs and charities

Aims and Objectives

After completing this course you will be able to:-

  • Define your roles and responsibilities as a meeting Chair, meeting Secretary or participant
  • Describe the characteristics of effective meetings
  • Clarify the purpose and benefits of meetings
  • Prepare effectively for the meetings you attend and understand the agenda
  • Participate actively and positively in meetings
  • Judge when and how to make appropriate contributions during meetings
  • State what skills you can develop to improve your performance in meetings

Content

This one day course covers all aspects of the arrangements for and conduct of any business meeting including:

  • Planning –Liaison between the chair and key officials
  • The meeting itself
  • The follow up to the meeting

1. Organising and conducting meeting

This is a skills based session that explores what is needed to run an effective meeting
Activities in this session will include a focus upon:-

  • Characteristics of effective and poorly run meetings –witness statements
  • The Chair’s tasks (with others) before any meeting
  • Agenda management
  • The environment
  • Opening the meeting
  • Keeping control
  • Encouraging participation
  • Summarising and closure-Chair’s tasks (with others) after the meeting

Exercises will be based upon on communication (body language/tone and words), active listening, observation and managing difficult behaviour. A technical focus and technique around SMARTER planning will also be imparted.

2.Understanding what is happening during a meeting

Identifying differences between parties/the use of open questions/asking the right questions of the right person. A seamless link between the preceding session and this one will take us into specific exercises around the use of:-

  • Open Questions
  • Probing and Supplementary Questions
  • Closed Questions
  • Hypothetical Questions as well as Leading or Loaded Questions
  • Group Dynamic Theory
  • Taking notes for minutes of the meeting

3. Reaching common ground-compromise and mediation

A five point flow chart will be introduced to identify the usual stages and characteristics of any meeting. This five point plan covers:-

  • Planning and Preparation
  • Opening
  • Stating –Testing – Questioning
  • Moving
  • Agreeing

We also impart some short exercises around influencing skills.

4. Explaining and summarising decisions – closure

This closing session effectively brings together learning points from the preceding modules especially the first and second. We usually include some brief “live” practice here in which feedback can be given. This module then looks at the duties of the following participants after the meeting has ended:

  • Chair – in progress chasing and swift liaison with Secretary on action points
  • Secretary – producing the minutes in a user friendly format. Templates for such formats will be introduced here and discussed
  • All Participants – Commitment to act on both individual and collective action points within agreed time periods
  • External stakeholders –Chair and Secretary to take forward any action points involve external stakeholders

Training Methods and Style

A wide variety of different learning activities are used throughout this lively and inter active training course. These activities include:-

  • Themed Workshops
  • Debates and Discussions
  • Benchmarking Good Practice
  • Live Practice

Templates for the following key activities will also be provided:-

  • Meeting plan checklist for Chair and Secretary
  • Joining instructions for the meeting
  • Agenda
  • Minutes
  • Action sheets arising from minutes

A full manual with a Q and A format supports the workshop