We regularly attend meetings where no one has a clear idea of what is to be undertaken, everybody talks at once, and no one is sure of what has to be done after the meeting. In a world where time has become something of a scarce commodity, executing a well-run meeting is an artform. A meeting is a formal social interaction in an organisation where decisions are made, information is shared, and views are aligned.

Here, we share 11 tips for running better team meetings. Bear in mind this list is not exhaustive, but applied together, these suggestions will improve the quality of your meetings and help you along in your journey to becoming a better leader.

Effective Meeting1. What is the purpose of the meeting?

A clear meeting agenda will set the foundation for a focused meeting. Meetings are called to inform the attendees about certain matters, or to take binding decisions. They are not there for discussions and conversations. If you don’t have a clear purpose in mind, try an email or a text message to share information.

2. Who should attend?
There are often many ‘hangers-on’ in team meetings. They attend so they can get out of work. When sending out an invite to a proposed meeting, ask yourself: Who is essential in the meeting, and who needs to be informed or needs to be present to make a decision? Also consider whether everyone is required to be in the meeting, or if there are people who may leave after they have delivered a report or done a presentation. If you have only one or two attendees, consider a phone call or an email.

3. What form should the meeting take?
Getting everyone together in the same room can be trying, especially in these days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Decide whether an in-person meeting is necessary, or can you make do with a virtual meeting, like a zoom meeting for instance.

4. The meeting agenda
An agenda is a script for the meeting that ensures everyone knows what will be discussed and in what particular order. It is a list of the key items that must be discussed and reviewed in order to achieve a desired objective. For each item, be clear about what decisions are required. Send it out in advance so attendees can adequately prepare. The meeting minutes of any previous meeting are usually circulated with the agenda. While you don’t have to be bound by the following sequence if it does not suit your purpose, this is the usual meeting minutes template for a more formal meeting:

• The meeting is declared open.
• Apologies are recorded.
• Minutes of the last meeting are addressed:
• Any changes to the minutes are adopted.
• The chairman asks for a proposer and a seconder for the minutes to be formally adopted.
• Matters arising from the minutes are dealt with.
• Reports: The various reports of the meeting are presented (chairperson’s report, treasurer’s report, etc.), questions entertained and then formally proposed and seconded.
• Motions are presented according to the agenda, they are voted upon, and the outcome recorded.
• General business is discussed and decisions are taken.
• The date of the next meeting is agreed upon.
• The meeting is closed.

5. Motions in the meeting
Motions or resolutions should be clear, to the point, and the action or outcome specified. These are binding decisions, so invest enough time to get it right the first time around.

6. Voting
Often a chairperson will summarise the discussion with a concluding consensus position. This may be because the chairperson may be driving their agenda. This is then followed by a vote, which can be taken by show of hands or by vote count. This should be done immediately after the motion or amendment has been put to the meeting.

7. Maintain control of the meeting
It is the chairperson’s responsibility to keep the team meeting moving and focused.
• Start on time, even if people are late.
• Briefly confirm the purpose of the meeting.
• Intervene if people speak out of turn, or the debate goes off topic.
• If a matter cannot be resolved, determine what will be necessary to resolve it in the future and add it to the project timeline. It may require a separate meeting, or the work may be delegated to a sub-committee.
• Confirm important decisions for the secretary to include in the minutes.
• Thank the attendees at the end for being present and participating.
• Meet afterwards with the secretary to finalise the draft minutes.

8. Good meeting etiquette – for all attendees
Being a good attendee can make for efficient meetings. This is how you can play your part.

• Arrive early so the meeting can start on time.
• Follow the meeting agenda, and don’t sidetrack the meeting with unrelated topics.
• Be prepared. Review the agenda, meeting minutes and other documents. Have any question written down, and be ready to speak to the matters on the agenda. Have your presentation ready if you are presenting a report.
• Follow the dress code. It pays to be respectful in this regard.
• Raise your hand to speak. Speak in turn when acknowledged by the chairperson. Do not interject or overtalk another speaker.
• Listen to what is being discussed and make notes, especially on actions that apply to you.
• Manage your mobile phone. Put it on silent, and don’t refer to it during the course of the meeting. Your messages will still be there at the end of the meeting.

9. The role of the chairperson
The role of the chairperson is to, inter alia:
• Control the meeting.
• Address all remarks and questions in turn.
• Ensure speakers do not interrupt each other. The chairperson should admonish those who do so.
• Assist attendees in reaching a consensus.
• Provide summaries where appropriate.
• Oversee voting procedures.
• Refocus any discussion that has deviated from the agenda.
• Highlight important points.
• Assists the minutes secretary if necessary.
• Clarify any misunderstandings.

10. Quorum
A quorum is the minimum number of attendees required for a valid meeting to be constituted and motions to be voted on or passed. If the quorum is not met, the meeting cannot conduct its business.

11. Taking meeting minutes
Minutes are the formal record of the business that was conducted in a meeting. The written minutes are the primary record in the event of a future dispute. They need to be accurate and truthful.
• Use a template based on the agenda.
• Mark off the attendees as they arrive.
• Circulate an attendance list and make sure the attendees sign it.
• Record the motions, actions, and decisions as they take place.
• Ask for clarification of decisions or facts from the chairperson if necessary.
• Good minutes are not a verbatim recording of what each person said, but they provide a clear and concise record of decisions.

The 11 points above will assist you in your quest to hold better team meetings. The best way to become good at chairing meetings is through first-hand experience. Get practice at social groups or sports clubs. Offer to write the minutes. Read up about the formalities and procedures of board meetings.

If your ambition is to become a CEO, a board chairperson or a company director, you will need these valuable skills for effective team meetings. Master them, and your talents will always be in demand.

  • Use a template based on the agenda.
  • Mark off the attendees as they arrive.
  • Circulate an attendance list and make sure the attendees sign it.
  • Record the motions, actions, and decisions as they take place.
  • Ask for clarification of decisions or facts from the chairperson if necessary.
  • Good minutes are not a verbatim recording of what each person said, but they provide a clear and concise record of decisions.

The 11 points above will assist you in your quest to be a better meeting chairperson or a meeting attendee. The best way to become good at chairing meetings through first-hand experience.  Get practice at social groups or sports clubs. Offer to write the minutes. Read up about the formalities and procedures of board meetings.

If your ambition is to become a CEO, a board chairperson or a company director, you will need these valuable skills. Master them, and your talents will always be in demand.

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