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How to Lead a Meeting

Young Woman Pulling Her HairToday’s post is by Erica Bell who is a writer for Business.com (that’s not her in the picture though).  Here’s Erica…

The basics of running a meeting, such as letting those attending have enough notice and making sure all the materials are prepared, should be easy to master. However, getting into a meeting and truly leading it isn’t always easy. The truth is it doesn’t matter what your meeting is about. In order to truly lead a meeting with employees, you must be able to take the information being delivered, compare it against future expectations and then determine the ways in which your staff can meet those expectations to move the company forward. When leading a meeting, you’ll need to focus on three areas: the current situation, the future and how your employees can get there.

Current Situation

In order to lead your meeting, you must be able to stick to the agenda and move things forward. When you enter a meeting, make it clear that there is an agenda – which should have been sent out beforehand – that you’ll be sticking to. Then, ask your employees what the current situation is regarding the topic of your meeting or within their department if it is an all office meeting. Getting an update on the current situation can help you determine the gravity of the situation and whether or not the problem, if there is one, can be resolved in the meeting. Some things may need to be tabled for later and this is one point in a meeting where your leadership comes in to play as you need to determine what to address now and what to hold off on.

Example question: What is the current situation with the office relocation scheduled for next month?

Future Situation

As soon as you’ve been updated on the current status, move on to the goals that have been set and future expectations. “Too many meetings” was the number one time-waster at the office, cited by 47% of over three thousand workers in a separate 2012 study by career site Salary.com. Don’t let discussion of the current deter your from moving the meeting forward and reducing wasted time. Make sure you’ve kept track of previous meetings and discussions where goals and expectations were discussed so you have a record and can bring forth any documents or conversations that are pertinent to the present meeting.

Example question: What are the expectations we discussed and where do you think we will be next month when the move date is here?

How to Get There

This is where you and your employees need to have the most discussion so you can resolve the problem that is currently being encountered. Make sure you ask your employees where they need more or less resources in order to reach the goals laid out. Use the ideas of one another to determine how goals and expectations can be met while working as a team. Keep the conversation on topic and make sure all employees are well aware that if you’ve reached this point, the issue needs to be resolved. Put a concrete solution in place and the actions that need to be taken. Just as it has throughout the meeting, you’re leadership is tested as you determine how to break a stalemate, develop a compromise and deliver a solution.

Example question: What would it take for us to meet the deadline and be ready for the move?

Because meetings can take up valuable time for your business, leading them successfully is crucial. According to a TrackVia survey, 11 percent of employees polled waste time at work in meetings and among those who spend time in meetings, 37 percent felt that at least half of the time in meetings was wasteful of their time. Only 8% found meetings 100% productive. Make sure that if you are spending time in meetings, they are being led in the most effective way possible. In order to really lead a meeting, you need to have an agenda and focus on moving the current situation to the expected future situation in the most efficient way possible.

- Erica Bell is a small business writer who focuses on topics such as meeting room furniture and conference room phone systems. She is a web content writer for Business.com.

4 Responses to “How to Lead a Meeting”

  1. We’ve all been to meetings that had no preparation and/or no agenda, and it’s no surprise these turned out badly. I imagine everyone invited was already in a bad mood because the organizer didn’t have the management skills or courtesy to do a little planning and communication to set the groundwork for the meeting. Even a simple note (a few days before the meeting) to attendees saying “I’m planning a meeting to discuss X; what aspects of this do you think we need to talk about?” would go a long way toward engaging the audience, developing an agenda and organizing the meeting.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think adding determining responsibilities and deadlines (especially at a volunteer meeting) for purposes of accountability and moving forward with the agreed-upon needs determined at the meeting is crucial. Setting a next meeting date, and expressing to those taking action steps that a report will be expected so “we can proceed further with this project” also builds accountability, and lets those involved know that you are serious about what has been discussed.

    • Mike Figliuolo says:

      Accountability is key. Hopefully at some point you can stop assigning things to folks and they themselves can step up and voluntarily take things on!

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