We’ve all experienced the frustration of a poorly planned meeting—the kind where, when it ultimately ends, you pack your belongings and leave wondering: what came of that?
Did we decide on anything?
For many businesses, organizing and facilitating productive meetings is a complex process. It demands preparatory work from your already-busy schedule and micromanaging groups of people with tangential thoughts and conflicting opinions. Instead of decision-making, the focus of your meeting quickly becomes multitasking a room swamped with conversation.
You know you have a great staff. But you also know that you aren’t tapping into their experience and ideas because meetings have become struggles.
The Components of an Effective Meeting
Good meetings begin with good agendas. A well-crafted and robust agenda takes into consideration the five key components of effective meetings:
- Purpose: Keep your objective in mind—what does a successful end to this meeting look like? Always build to that ideal.
- Right People: Does the meeting include everyone who is relevant to the task at hand?
- Right Dialogue: You’ll want the opinions of everyone present, so ensure that they’re debriefed on the agenda beforehand to produce fruitful discussion the day-of.
- Right Time: Block out enough time for your team to have a real and inclusive dialogue.
It’s overwhelmingly important to be prepared whenever you enter a meeting—it allows you to enter confidently.
Well-structured agendas and pre-work materials for you and your team will improve your ability to guide the meeting, and your team’s ability to come prepared with meaningful contributions.
Utilize a Neutral Party
A valuable meeting will include focused dialogue that follows a clear path from the pre-distributed agenda. It will leave space for additional perspectives—you want your team to feel guided and heard, never stifled—and take every individual into account.
You want the opinions of every person in the room. Which means, inevitably, there will be people with conflicting views, and staff who are hesitant to contribute because they’re afraid their opinion will be met with bias.
Give your employees the freedom to speak, and yourself the ability to listen. Using a third-party facilitation consultant who can manage the flow of discussion in a neutral way, everyone will be given space to contribute. Nonpartisan facilitators mitigate stress and conflict and encourage open platforms for discussion; they ensure that all opinions are heard, understood, validated, and considered.
And they keep the conversation moving. As an objective voice at the table, moderators are able to impersonally and equitably request clarification, drive conversation and close decisions. They leave you and your leaders free to focus on the discussion at the table and the input of your team and stakeholders. With the help of a neutral third party, you can keep your meeting’s end goal in sight, all while avoiding detours, waylaying non-sequitur discussions, and finishing on time, on topic, and on good terms.
Finally, your team can start making headway toward decisions.
Create Meetings with Outcomes
A Blue-Mark engagement is a chance to focus your team.
With Blue-Mark facilitators leading the meeting, you can concentrate on forming and sharing opinions and decisions. And with a structured dialogue, your team will spend the meeting time building toward an outcome on which they’re aligned, instead of detouring into unrelated conversation.
Great facilitation is about asking great questions, but decisions don’t end when the dialogue does. Once the meeting has concluded, it’s vital that all action items are compiled into implementable solutions. Decisions necessitate documentation. More than that, they require concrete delegations of tasks, clear timelines, and forward momentum.
Don’t let poorly planned meetings impede your company’s progress; see how Blue-Mark can help your team craft agendas with purpose, and guide discussions that drive results. Become skilled in the techniques of successful facilitation with Blue-Mark’s learning course on Facilitation Fundamentals Training, and learn how to move our best practices from a Blue-Mark board room to yours.
Want Blue-Mark to come in for a half-day, full-day, or multiple-day session to help you craft and lead an important meeting or resolve conflicting dynamics? Consult an advisor today to discuss how we can help support your goals.
Are your meetings being stalled by inter-team disputes? Your company’s operating model might have something to do with it. Discover the roots of performance issues and staff conflict when you revaluate the gaps in your operating model.