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10 Tips for Conducting High-Performance Meetings

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Wed Oct 02 2013

10 Tips for Conducting High-Performance Meetings
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When the conductor steps on the podium to conduct a meeting (rehearsal) with an orchestra, he is thoroughly prepared for success. Not only are the outcomes in mind, but also the process to get there has been completely planned. Here are 10 tips for conduction high performance meetings.

1. Clearly state the purpose for the meeting 

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Don’t hold a meeting unless there is a reason. Know why you are holding a meeting and tell others why and give a definition of the expected output of the meeting. Articulate the meeting objectives as clearly stated “deliverables” or some other term that communicates completion of specific objectives.

2. Review the entire flow for the session at the beginning 

Explain what will happen and when it will happen in this meeting. Help people understand where the meeting is going and how the group will bet there. This will help each participant be fully present for each part of the meeting and to trust the process. Explain what type of discussion is needed (brainstorming, sorting, and so forth) at each point in the meeting and define how those concepts will work. Explain how decisions will be made.

**3. Plan the meeting thoroughly

**

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Begin with the deliverables in mind. In other words, know what you want to walk away with at the end of the meeting. Express the deliverables using specific, focused and measurable outcomes.  

When planning the meeting, allow twice the meeting time for your planning process. In order to get the best results, a commitment to the best planning is necessary, and only plan for 65 percent of the available time. Some items will take more time than planned. Be efficient with your time and respect the time of others! 

Outline every part of the meeting in your planning guide. Define how much time it will take to introduce the deliverables and give an overview of the meeting, as well as how much time it will take to brainstorm, sort, and refine. Do not leave out any part of the process. 

Prepare visuals for the meeting. Record the input of the group on chart pads, storyboard cards, white boards or some other media that everyone can constantly review as they make decisions. Define where the group input is needed and where it is not. Explain the difference. 

4. Identify the leader/moderator/facilitator of the meeting

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One person must control the flow of the meeting. One person must facilitate to insure that the group stays on task and nobody dominates all the discussions or decisions. The facilitator also ensures that the meeting addresses all the deliverables as promised and involves everyone in the process.

5. Begin and end on time 

Know how long the meeting will take, pace the meeting and end on time as promised. Keep faith with the participants. Begin on the exact time specified even if everyone is not present. Do not penalize those who have arrived on time. If you communicate that you are not keeping your word as a leader with something as simple as a starting time, then how will your work be trusted in more important matters.  

Assign a priority for items in the session. Know which items to drop or postpone if the meeting is more complex than expected and begins to take longer than planned.

6. Design ways to prompt input from each attendee

If people have been invited to a meeting, then expect them to participate. Participating will validate each person’s part in the process and ultimately to the outcome. This gives each person ownership of the outcome.

7. Create a group list of “norms” for process together 

If the group meets on an ongoing basis or on a regular schedule, then it might be a good idea to develop a set of operational guidelines for how the group process works and how decisions will be made.

8. Record the group’s information where all can see 

Writing down ideas gives validation to the ideas contributed. A visual record will also remind the group of the data generated keeping it present for making better decisions. Be sure to record ideas and concepts exactly as they are stated. Do not interpret or put in your “two cents worth.” Record first, judge or sort later—this is especially important when the material is sensitive, challenging, or complex. 

9. Stay in control of the meeting 

If a participant hijacks the meeting, take it back, gently. Do not allow any participant to ramble or give speeches that are unnecessary or lengthy. The facilitator must remain in control of the process and take it back from time to time. 

10. Do not adjourn without setting accountability standards 

If actions are needed, assign responsibility and a completion date for each item. Good ideas will only materialize into results when they are a part of an action plan. Agree on the next step(s) or next meeting date before ending the meeting. 

As people are invited to attend the meeting, they should be instructed to bring their calendars. This is one reason why: affirm the participants and their contributions. Review the list of deliverables to validate your success. Celebrate! 

Note: This post is excerpted from “Conducting Power-Packed Meetings: Hugh’s 10 Tips for High Performance Meetings.” To learn more, go to  http://www.hughballou.com.

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