Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Keeping your meetings focussed

How often have you attended GB meetings that went on for hours, lost track of what they were supposed to be talking about, got stalled while people read the papers...?

Well, here are a few tips that have worked for me in keeping meetings focussed (and not just governor meetings, I use these tips in my 'professional' arena as well:

  1. It all starts with planning (Remember the 6Ps - "Proper Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance").
  2. Well in advance of the meeting, go through the previous minutes and follow up any actions - is a report-back needed? If so put it on the Agenda. Try to avoid Matters Arising by having any follow-ups as specific agenda items.
  3. Establish what other Reports (Committees, Working Parties...) are needed and brief the reporter to provide a short written report to which they can speak at the meeting (I do not like verbal reports, althought they are inevitable sometimes).
  4. Circulate all FGB members a very rough draft agenda asking for additions/amendments
  5. Omit "Any other Business" - if it's not important enough to raise beforehand then it's not important.
  6. Finalise the Agenda by deciding how long each item might take, who will lead it and what the point (Discuss, Decide, Information) of the item is; write a sentence or so about each item explaining what it's there for - so now people have more of an idea what will be expected of them.
  7.  Put at the top of every Agenda "To speed progress and improve the discussion, we will expect all papers to have been read in advance of the meeting" and do not give time in the meeting for those who have not done so!
  8. Put at the bottom of every Agenda "How have we helped improve the chances for our pupils during this meeting" - and discuss it; this will help focus people on what really matters (and it's generally not the trivia that too many meetings get bogged down with!)
  9. You might want to do the Clerk's job for them by getting all the papers together - it's a good way of finding out how organised everyone is (HT included - they are the professional who knows well in advance when the meeting is and ought to be well prepared!). No paper for circulation 7 days in advance = not on Agenda.
Try these tips, it's a bit of a hassle at first but the message soon gets through and your meetings will go more smoothly.
Look out for the next post on the meeting itself...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like it a lot cheers will be trying them out and hope it works. need to reduce meetings by an hour, so we will have a 1.5 hour meeting just once a term to cover the FGB and same for committees.
1 done
2 mostly done but not always reported back as actions have not been undertaken by the staff
3 done
4 not sent out draft but the GB are aware of how to add an item onto the agenda and that is through the chair and they have done this on occassion
5 AOB I have tried to keep this to emnergency only but the strong characters on my GB tell me it has to be done by going round the table, only the previous chair ever uses for items that can wait or could have been added to the agenda if he'd asked.
6 I also add approx times so it gives governors an idea of how long it should take.
7 good idea
8 very good idea, but I doubt my GB will welcome it as it would need to be one of the last items and some tend to get up and leave half way through the others just want to rush off home.
9 Have no choice as this is what my GS clerking insist on Chair sorts out all the papers and emails them to the clerk.

I'd add
10 put items in an order of importance so if some need to leave early the important items are covered, but especially those items that need a decision so if you find your GB is no longer quorate and you just have items for discussion and information this can still be covered at the meeting and it be minuted for them to read about for the next meeting so they don't miss out alltogether.

My main problem however is keeping the waffle down and be polite about it. Head tends to read out his reports word for word and each time he gets "nudged" often tangents are made and I spend more time bringing it back to topic than we do on the topic.