Coaching Others to Manage Meetings Successfully

By Marie Taylor, Steve Crabb

There is a saying, ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’. In terms of coaching a business to be on the right track, even the best made plans can fail if they aren’t monitored and corrective adjustments made.

A key tool for managing progress is the meeting. Most people have experienced meetings that drag on, have conversations that go off at tangents and seem to be a complete waste of time.

The good news is that good meeting management is not rocket science; the bad news is that few organisations make the effort to get it right. Improving meetings is an area where coaching can add value to the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation.

Start coaching for successful meetings by defining purpose and attitude.

  • Purpose: This is defined by the organisation’s ‘big picture’ (why it does what it does). Purpose is related to its mission (what its outcomes are) and its values (what’s important to it). Every meeting held and every topic discussed should support the purpose.

  • Attitude: Attitude is defined as the way you approach something. The best attitudes to have in meetings are being fully engaged (everyone must be mentally present in the room and focussed on the meeting at hand), honest (everyone must be willing to speak up and either agree or disagree) and vulnerable (open to feedback and not taking it personally).

Here are seven simple rules that will enable clients to run effective and efficient meetings.

  • Have clear objectives: Relate these back to the purpose so everyone is clear about why they are being discussed.

  • Set the stage for every meeting: Establish the rules for the meeting by reminding people about purpose and attitude. Tell them the meeting is a place for open, honest dialogue. Don’t assume everyone will have heard the rules before; reiterate them. Have participants switch off all mobile devices.

  • Select the meeting participants carefully: Two criteria to consider when selecting meeting participants are: Is the meeting relevant to them? Do they have skills and expertise that are needed for a successful meeting?

  • Stick to a schedule: Distribute the meeting timings and schedule to all participants so they have enough time to prepare any contributions.

  • Start and end on time: People appreciate others’ awareness of their time. Unscheduled overruns can adversely affect someone’s daily schedule. Allow for short breaks every 45 minutes to ensure participants stay engaged and alert.

  • Keep the meeting on track: Take no hostages with anyone showboating or going off track. Thank anyone who contributes, and know when to say ‘Thank you. It’s now time to move on’.

  • Evaluate and close the meeting: Allow sufficient time to summarise the points discussed and check with the participants that they all have a clear understanding of them. Review actions and assignments, and encourage people to speak up if they have any questions or concerns. Set the time for the next meeting and follow up by distributing the meeting notes.