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How to conduct a Meeting – Management Overview
The following are the steps involved in conducting a effective meeting in an organization.
The meeting convener must issue a notice. A notice should:
1. be issued by the proper authority
2. observe a minimum period of notice
3. state where and when the meeting is to be held
4. be accompanied by an agenda
5. be sent to all1 individuals entitled to receive it.
The notice, as mentioned above, must be accompanied by an agenda. An agenda is a list of topics that will be covered at the meeting. The agenda gives participants a chance to gather their thoughts and bring relevant information to the meeting.
To be effective, an agenda must be specific. The topics listed should not be vague. They must spell out what exactly will be discussed. Any relevant background reading material should be attached. The list of topics to be taken up for discussion should not be too long. Meetings that go on and on are not very popular.
A formal meeting, however, has an agenda that includes the following:
2. Apologies for absence
3. Minutes of the last meeting
4. Matters arising from the minutes
5. First main item
6. Second item
7. Third item
8. Any other business
9. Date of next meeting
The minutes of the previous meeting is sometimes circulated along with the agenda. The recipients are supposed to read them before attending the meeting. If the minutes are not sent along with the agenda, it is read out by the secretary when the meeting starts. This is generally a brief, accurate record of the business transacted at the previous meeting. It should contain the following:
1. Name of organization
2. Place, date and time of meeting
3. Names of chairperson and secretary
4. Names of other members present
5. All motions and amendments
6. Names of movers and seconders of all motions and amendments
7. Results of voting
The minutes should be:
1. Concise but sufficiently detailed to make clear what the meeting was about
2. Precise and unambiguous
3. Impersonal and impartial
4. Written in the past tense
5. Numbered in ascending order from one meeting to another.
Opening the Meeting
To get the meeting off to a good start the leader must ensure that the participants are at ease and that the setting for the meeting is appropriate. One way of putting the participants at ease is by thanking everyone for coming and clearly stating what is expected to be accomplished. This ensures that everybody knows the purpose of the meeting. The leader may also redistribute copies of the agenda to those participants who do not have theirs with them. When certain participants are expected to make specific contributions, the leader may outline these in the beginning, and also indicate how much time is available for discussion, so that the participants realize the time constraints.
Conducting the Business
In order to accomplish the desired objectives of the meeting, the leader must follow the agenda. Whenever the discussion strays from the agenda, he should redirect it, so that it stays focused on the main purpose. However, while doing this, the leader should not become too directive, as this discourages participation.
Some members try to introduce their own personal agenda into the discussion. They often resort to personal power plays, attention-seeking and blocking. These tactics are very disruptive as they make the other members cautious and defensive. In such situations it is the leader’s task to confront the troublemaker and make him realize that he is hampering the proceedings.
Ensuring participation by each member of the group is another responsibility of the leader. An effective leader does not start out by telling the others how a particular issue should be resolved. Rather, he invites the other participants to express their opinions. By listening patiently to what the others have to say and by using positive body language, the leader makes the others feel that he is receptive to their ideas. This prompts members to be more forthcoming.
Not all ideas that come up during a meeting may be relevant or practicable. When someone comes up with an irrelevant or unsuitable idea, the leader may suggest that it may be taken up at some other time when it would be more appropriate. The leader should thank the people for their participation, regardless of how he personally feels about their ideas.
Concluding the Meeting
A little before the scheduled closing time, the leader usually signals that time is almost up. This gives the group a chance to wrap up the discussion. The leader then brings the meeting to a close by noting what has been accomplished and what remains to be done. Participants should be informed about what will happen next. If decisions have been made and action promised, the group members should be told when the action will be taken. Members should also be informed about when the minutes of the meeting will be circulated.
Following up the Meeting
After the meeting is over, the leader assesses the results. Was the purpose achieved? Did all the members participate in the discussion? Was the decision taken in an appropriate manner? How can the next meeting be conducted better? The leader must follow up on whatever promises were made, by keeping in touch with the other members and making sure that they are actually following the steps that were outlined at the meeting.
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