Saturday, 27 March 2010

Keeping meetings on track

OK, here we go with Part 2 - tips for keeping your meetings on track.

  1. Start on time - if the meeting is not quorate then deal with items that do not require a decision. People will soon learn that your meetings start on time and will be there.
  2. Indicate when the meeting will finish - and stick to it!
  3. (I have been known to write a copy of the agenda on a flipchart so that each item can be crossed off as it is completed - a very good visual reminder of how much has been done/is still to be dealt with).
  4. Separate approval of the minutes from any Matters Arising (not on the agenda - remember my earlier tip). 
  5. Use language that moves you to where you want to be "Are we agreed that these are a correct record?" or "Does anybody wish to challenge these mimnutes as a corrct record?"
  6. Positively lead Matters Arising - draw attention to what you have already put on the agenda, if someone who was absent from the last meeting asks for an explanation of an item then volunteer to do so after the meeting.
  7. Remind governors how the time is going - especially if things start to drift - remind them that there are another 'n' items, some of which are more important than discussing 3 month old minutes...
  8. Do not let anyone read out their reports, we are assuming that people have read them, ask them for a brief summary of key points (of course you briefed them in advance about this) and if anyone asks for details on delegated matters then encourage the relevant Chair to brief them afterwards.
  9. One of my favourite phrases is "Does anyone else feel that we are now going round in circles?"
  10. Go out of your way to 'invite in' the quieter members of the team - create space for them to have their say.
  11. Give very clear signals when it it time to move on - "OK, so that's dealt with Item 4 let's move on to Jenny and Item 5 on School Uniform; our challenge here is to decide what to do based on the report that you will all have read"
  12. Before you finish review all of the actions to which various people have committed (if you are really organised you could have a flip on the wall for "Next Steps" - who has agreed to do what by when...)
  13. Thank everyone for their patience and understanding - it's often the only thanks us governors get!
  14. Finish on time - if for no other reason than out of respect for individuals' other committments - and remind people of future meetings.
No rocket science then, and it's worth thinking about how the meeting will work as well as what will be discussed. There is a lot more I could say but this is just a short blog, not a thesis on meetings management!

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