More effective meetings

Purposeful, effective meetings

I ran a half day personal effectiveness course recently for the leadership team of a lovely Scottish company. Some leadership teams spend a fair bit of their time in formal and informal meetings, so we spent part of the course looking at how to make their meetings more effective. Given I am still involved in a couple of Boards, it was a useful reminder for me too!

We discussed:

  • Getting Board papers out in good time. Helping the meeting organiser by getting paperwork to them in good time. Keeping Board papers succinct, using dashboards and charts where possible.
  • Chair making it clear that Board members need to read the papers beforehand.
  • Starting and ending on time, not waiting for the latecomers.
  • Only attending the meetings or sessions where you need to attend.
  • The Chair involving the quiet folk by asking them for their opinions.
  • Enabling time for brainstorming, questions and interchange, getting out of passive listening mode.
  • Having candid discussions and challenging the management team (constructively) when required. The critical Board roles of policy-making, decision-making and oversight can sometimes seem like a West End play, with actors faithfully following their assigned roles.
  • Making an annual plan for the important business to be discussed.
  • Following a ‘first things first’ rule:
    • Getting the consent agenda dealt with quickly.
    • Scheduling the important issues next, leaving less critical items to the end of the agenda.
    • Using a timed agenda.
    • Clearly indicating if an item is for discussion, approval, or information only.
  • Not allowing AOB, the Chair managing the agenda so it is not hijacked.
  • Spending a few minutes at the end of every meeting discussing how the meeting went and whether improvements can be made.
  • Getting the minutes out quickly – action-oriented minutes rather than ‘he said, she said’ minutes.

Happy meetings!