10 Elements of a Successful Meeting

Tasmanian IT News   •   September 26, 2018

Meetings can make or break projects and organisations.  If not properly managed, they can tie up critical resources, lead to a cyclical need for more meetings and delay critical decision making.

Below we discuss 10 key elements Tasmanian IT consider when driving a successful meeting.

1. Stick to the Agenda

So simple, yet often not done – assuming there is an agenda at all…  A meeting should be called for one of two reasons, to workshop and issue, or make a key decision.  Lack of focus will result in neither being achieved.

2. Be aware of the non-verbal communication

The “soft skill” of awareness in meetings cannot be under-rated.  Just because someone has not spoken, does not mean they do not have something important to say.  Whether it is someone shifting in their chair, or a small shake of the head – if you notice it, check in with them.

3. Focus on Actions and decisions

From working through the Agenda, a clear set of actions and decisions should be developed.  Record these and distribute them with owners and due dates.  Then follow up…

4. Make Members accountable

There should not be any passengers in a meeting.  Members should attend, having read the Agenda and Meeting Papers, discussed any pre-requisites they will need to bring to the table ready to pro-actively engage.

5. Encourage healthy debate

The key word here is “healthy”.  I strongly encourage meeting membership to challenge the “point”, but not the “person”.  There will be many different perspectives on a subject, and it is important that decisions and actions are challenged.

6. Encourage the quiet people in the room

The corporate world can be dominated by the “alpha” personalities in the room.   This is especially true in meetings where specific point or agenda is being pushed.  This can lead to a false sense of engagement and collaboration.  Not to mention, the quiet person in the room can also be the most knowledgeable…

7. Ask the questions no-body wants to raise

Too often people leave meetings disappointed because a specific topic did not reach the discussion, usually through political or social pressures and fear of being seen to cause issues.  The ability to point out the “elephant in the room” in an objective and concise way is a key skill that everyone should have.

8. Be respectful to people values

The outcomes of meetings can have significant impacts on various stakeholders, including the meeting members themselves.  For this reason it is easy for emotions to take place of objectivity.  When working through tough/robust discussion, try to consider the members position and focus on a mutual solution.

9. Recognise time is a limited, valuable resource

Projects and business management can result in non-stop meetings with large memberships.  At some point there needs to be time for implementing solutions.  When booking a meeting, consider carefully the membership required to support the agenda and the time it will take to discuss.  To assist stakeholders to not be “booked out”, I also recommend people “schedule” activities such as documentation to their diary.

10. Be willing to ask the “stupid” questions

In the professional world, it can be intimidating to ask questions, especially when you feel you should know the answer.  It is surprising how many times you will find that many stakeholders in the discussion will be thinking the same question, or the answer is not what the audience expected.  Be brave, ask the questions – this includes “have we missed anything?”.

Thank you for reading and if you would like to see what Tasmanian IT can do for your organisation, please contact us at Office@TasmanianIT.com.au or on (03) 6270 2232.