How to Conduct a Predictable Success® Meeting.

Feb 20, 2004

Meetings are a great tool – if you need to problem-solve, brainstorm or simply discuss an issue, your first instinct will likely be to call a meeting. Meetings are a great tool – if you need to problem-solve, brainstorm or simply discuss an issue, your first instinct will likely be to call a meeting.

Too often though we find ourselves wasting hours in meetings where nothing is being achieved, where certain people are taking over the discussion, or worse – where there is little or no group participation.

Simple meeting management can help circumnavigate many of the most common meeting challenges. By ensuring you have an agenda compiled in advance with clear outcomes, ground rules and roles assigned, your meeting is already off to a great start.

Despite your better planning efforts however, sometimes meeting challenges do present themselves. Below you will find some of the most common meeting challenges along with suggestions on how to overcome them:

The meeting is going off track/The meeting isn’t productive

  • Be clear about the purpose of the meeting.

  • Establish outcomes for each agenda item ahead of time.

  • Do your agenda items fit into the purpose of the meting? If not, they should be covered elsewhere, i.e. via email, a one-on-one meeting etc.
  • Are there too many people in the meeting? You can address items which don’t apply to all members at the end, allowing those members to leave to whom the topic doesn’t apply.

The group keeps repeating the points made.

  • Refer back to the agenda, underlining the time allocated for the item and the desired outcome.

  • Keep track of ideas of a flip chart, refer back to flip chart if a point is being repeated.

  • Confirm your understanding of the idea by paraphrasing and summarizing.

There is no or little group participation – group falls silent.

  • Let the group be silent for a moment – they may need time to reflect/absorb a previous point. Your more introverted group members will need time to think.

  • Break the group into smaller sub-groups to discuss the item at hand (many people are uncomfortable sharing their thoughts in a large group, but less so in a smaller group).

  • Address meeting participation during the setting the ground rules phase – be sure to establish the expectation that members participate.

A meeting participant is dominating the discussion.

  • Thank them for their contribution and let them know you would like everybody to have an opportunity to speak.

  • Address meeting participation during the setting the ground rules phase – be sure to establish the expectation that no single group member may dominate the discussion.

  • If the behavior becomes chronic, call a break and speak to the participant in private, asking them to jot down their comments on a piece of paper and discuss them with you at the end of the meeting.

The group gets stuck on a particular agenda item.

  • Refer back to the agenda and to the desired outcome.

  • Ask the group if they need additional information. It might be necessary to do additional background work to effectively address the issue in a subsequent meeting.