6. Assign Action Steps
In a perfect world, people would 100 percent self-manage. We don’t live in a perfect world. That’s why the meeting leader needs to wrap up the meeting by summarizing the key points and then assign the action steps. Decide who’s going to do what and by when. Also, determine how everyone will follow up on the action steps. Who’s holding people accountable for doing what needs to get done? The more follow-up and accountability you have, the more likely you are to accomplish the stated goals.
7. Delegate the Meeting Responsibility
Just because you’re the owner or supervisor doesn’t mean you have to lead every meeting. Delegate some meetings to others so they can gain experience in this critical skill. If you don’t feel comfortable delegating the entire meeting, delegate a part of it that’s focused on a specific topic. Give everyone a turn to develop their meeting prowess.
8. Know When to Lead and When to Participate
When you do delegate a meeting or attend someone else’s meeting, resist the urge to “take over.” Of course you can be an active participant and state your opinions, but let the other person do his job and have the spotlight as the leader. He may not run the meeting exactly like you would, but it’s his meeting. Let his own leadership style shine.
9. Always Let People Out Early
Remember when you were a kid and the teacher let you out of class a minute or two early? Chances are you liked that teacher and didn’t mind going back to his class.
Adults are the same way. The minute you start going over the stated adjournment time, people disengage and tune out. Instead, let them out a few minutes early. If you’ve followed all the other points mentioned thus far, an early adjournment should be possible. If your meeting topic still has loose ends, address those key items with the needed parties privately. Keeping everyone in the meeting to address final points that don’t pertain to the group as a whole leaves people frustrated and bored—not the kind of last impression you want.
10. Have Fun!
Meetings have a reputation for being boring and uninspiring, so give people a chance to leave with something other than the agenda. For example, if the meeting takes place around a holiday, put out some candies or small decorations. If the meeting topic is dull, hand out small hand clappers (hand-shaped noise makers). Tell everyone, “If I say something good, pick this up and make some noise.” Do what you can to make a dull meeting memorable and fun.
Make Your Meetings Work
Meetings don’t have to be something people dread. When you implement these 10 tips for your future meetings, you’ll gain a reputation for being an effective meeting facilitator. And rather than being viewed as time wasters, your meetings will actually get things done.
Jean Kelley, author and entrepreneur, is the managing director of Jean Kelley Leadership Alliance, whose faculty and trainers have helped more than 750,000 leaders and high potentials up their game at work in the United States and in Canada. For information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.jeankelley.com.