Home Forums Work Meetings Need advice for meetings.

This topic contains 7 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  xarcady 7 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #159733


    Hi I work as a personal development coach. I attend meetings and help organize them as well. The problem I have is we ask a lot of open ended questions and sometimes my meetings can go on for hours over the target time. The discussions are good, but some people complain about the length. Any advice?

    Personal Development 123

  • #204212

    Need advice for meetings.

    It’s the job of the meeting facilitator to keep it on track and within time. I would recommend:

    (1) Set a start and an end time for the meeting and honor it.
    (2) Have an agenda. It is useful to have an estimated time for each issue/question. This can be negotiated during the meeting if circumstances warrant, but it keeps people on track. The agenda with the time budget will also give you a clue as to whether you have scheduled too much for the allotted time. In an hour-long session, for example, you can probably only handle 3 or 4 open-ended or controversial/lively questions.
    (3) Have a timekeeper — as Conny mentioned, there are different ways of doing this, but is is critical. It helps to make it a different person than the facilitator so that he/she can concentrate on the discussion and not the time.
    (4) Reel the conversation back in if it gets off-track or repetitive. It can help to intervene by summarizing the comments so far and asking if anyone has something new to offer.
    (5) If you have people who tend to dominate the discussion it is appropriate to gently cut them off: “We’ve already heard from you several times, John, but I’d like to hear what Joan has to say about this.”
    (6) In a discussion that is more learning/insight than action-oriented, a good technique is to break into smaller groups for the discussion — diads or triads work well. Give them a specified SHORT period, then have one person from each group report back BRIEFLY on their discussion. More people can participate in a shorter period of time.

  • #204219


    Need advice for meetings.

    – Come prepared and motivate others to do so too.
    – Politely but brutally cut multitalk; everyone can be heard but not simultaneously and all opinions are equally valuable.
    – If tech stuff are acting up often, fix problems or learn not to use them until they are properly working; don’t waste time trying to have fancy slideshows either unless you know how to use them.
    – Read up on meeting technique; it is an art form and meetings can be incredibly repulsive to attend if the leader sucks (just ask me).
    – Chit chat is not done during meetings but those who wish to socialize pleasantly can meet up after the meeting in informal ways. Even volunteers have goals elsewhere in life. God this one bothers me.
    – The purpose of a meeting is on the other hand not to breeze through it in 30 min either, if the discussions at hand require 60 or 120. Don’t let the impatient ones take over to influence everyone’s mood, but lead efficiently and optimistically.
    – Again, have everyone arrive prepared.

  • #204230


    Need advice for meetings.

    Count me in with those who would complain — politely but firmly — about meetings that go on hours over schedule. (And recognize that the others are just as irritated, but for whatever reason choose not to speak up.) You have to respect people’s time.

    It’s fine to ask open-ended questions, but once the time you have allotted for discussion on question A is up, make a note to have a follow-up meeting on just that question at a later time and move on.

    It sounds as if you might be trying to cram way too much into one meeting, too. If you know that your attendees tend to go on for half an hour on each of your questions, putting 12 questions on the agenda of a 2-hour meeting is just cruel.

    You’ll develop a sense of how long things will take over time. Until you have a sense of how things will go, it’s always better to err on trying to cover a little bit in a lot of time rather than the other way around.

  • #204234


    Need advice for meetings.

    I have to deal with meetings for both work and a large non profit I am involved with.

    1st- always have an agenda
    2nd- if a topic is really going on and on and does not need to be resolved at that moment, put it in the “parking lot”, note where you need to pick up the discussion later, and move on to the next agenda item.

    If you suffer from a particularly verbose group, set time slots for each agenda item.

  • #204359


    Need advice for meetings.

    In my experience, the longer a meeting goes, the less productive it becomes. The longest useful meeting time is about 2 hours, but shorter is better.

    You can use luxcat’s parking lot idea for new ideas that crop up in meetings as well. Say you are discussing how to improve the TBS reporting procedure. Someone remarks that the change you are discussing would be great for improving the XYZ process. Don’t spend time discussing the XYZ process or how the change could benefit it–write the idea down in the “parking lot” and continue on with the meeting. The “parking lot” can be a simple piece of paper in the middle of the table–nothing fancy.

    The important thing is remembering to add the parking lot items to future meetings.

    And not having a boss like my former boss, who simply could not let a new idea go and sidetracked many meetings because she got a new idea. The parking lot didn’t help, because she’d insist on hashing out the new idea right then and there. Reminding her of the time left in the meeting didn’t help, because she’d declare that New Idea! was more important than anything on the agenda. Reminding her we really needed a decision on X and that decision was why we were having the meeting in the first place didn’t help either. She owned the company and we couldn’t stop her.

    On the other hand, she did give me lots of books on how to run good meetings, because my meeting running skills were so poor, and I learned a lot of good techniques from them. Which I’m putting to use in my new job, with a much more reasonable boss.

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