Making Meetings Effective
You can’t walk into the business section of most book stores without seeing books on the importance of effective meetings. They’re part of any company’s internal communication strategy – to make sure everyone has opportunities to stay informed and involved. However, most of the 11 million daily meetings across the United States resemble something straight out of Dilbert more than they appear to be an effective communication tool.
Barbara Striebel in her book, The Manager’s Guide to Effective Meetings, says that, “meetings can either be the bane of employee life or they can help facilitate the cooperation needed to efficiently and effectively work together.”
Looking for ways to improve the performance of your medical practice? Ms. Striebel encourages you to begin with improving the performance of your staff meetings.
Here are some tips gathered from business gurus and medical practices across the country for transforming your team meetings from boring to brilliant!
- Begin each meeting with a purpose by describing what the meeting is about.
- Keep your meetings on topic.
- Show respect for staff by beginning (and ending) meetings on time.
- Be sure each meeting has ground rules established. For example, everyone gets an opportunity to contribute to the discussion or to turn off cell phones.
Prepare a Plan:
- Most meetings are more productive when they include an agenda. Have one prepared for your meetings and be sure to distribute it prior to or at the beginning of the meeting. You can save paper and help participants be more prepared by emailing the agenda prior to the meeting.
- Be open to feedback about the agenda. Do others have items they would like to see discussed? It never hurts to ask a question like this when you’re distributing the agenda.
- Ask staff to come to the meeting prepared to participate.
- Mark each agenda item clearly so participants know whether it is an announcement, a discussion item, or an action item.
- Designate someone to facilitate discussions. Some practices use a “roving facilitator” where participants take turns facilitating meetings. This can help spread responsibility and include all meeting participants.
- A facilitator is tasked with keeping meeting discussions on track and to discourage any time-wasting interpersonal conflicts. They also can keep the discussion from becoming one-sided by ensuring everyone is heard.
- Be sure to ask participants if there’s anything else that needs to be discussed.
- Finally, finish each meeting by describing some accomplishment. Like a birdie on the 9th hole, it will have people coming back for more.
It’s best to follow-up most meetings with some type of report, including a brief summary of the meeting and some type of task tracker that indicates the what, who, and when of what is to be done next.
Ms. Striebel reminds us that used effectively meetings can, “energize the participants, promote teamwork, and generate important results.”
If you still doubt the importance of well-planned meetings, consider this quote from William R. Daniels, senior consultant at American Consulting and Training, “Meetings matter because that’s where an organization’s culture perpetuates itself. Meetings are how an organization says, ‘You are a member.’”