A meeting can be defined as a collaborative work process designed to answer the who, why, how and what of a particular objective. Characteristics of ineffective meetings include passive participants and a regurgitation of previously discussed topics. Effective meetings are essentially the opposite of that. Effective meetings can boost productivity, employee morale and profits.
The five steps for preparing and conducting effective meetings, also known as the five P's, are: purpose, plan, participants, participation and perspective, note David Whetten and Kim Cameron in the book “Developing Management Skills.” Purpose clearly states the intent of the meeting. Plan is the course of action during the meeting. Participants include attendees and facilitators. Participation is necessary from the attendees and the facilitators. Perspective is the objective the meeting aims to achieve and a summary of the agreements that result from the meeting.
Games are among the most effective tools used to conduct successful meetings. Fast, inexpensive, adaptable, low risk and participative games are recommended. Brainstorming is another tool that is used to gather information and explain a problem or situation. Other tools for effective meetings include questionnaires, surveys, interviews and worksheets.
Effective meetings are imaginative, participative, innovative and engaging. They begin and end on time. Someone is assigned to keep track of minutes and the agenda. Scheduled breaks occur at designated times. Lively and positive discussions are encouraged. Participants are allowed to evaluate the meeting. Effective meetings end on a friendly note with the facilitator ensuring harmony exists among the participants.
Peter Honey writes in the book “Improve Your People Skills” that effective meetings are ideally conducted a maximum of once a week, usually for the same participants. The most successful meetings are wound up in an hour and typically do not extend to two hours.
Poorly managed meetings have a negative impact on employee morale, making some become skeptical and pessimistic, while others become apathetic and inattentive. Ineffective meetings, notes Barbara J. Streibel in the book “The Manager's Guide to Effective Meetings,” cost businesses billions of dollars each year in lost opportunities and lost time. They damage the image of an organization, highlight its ineffective management and reduce productivity. Effective meetings preserve two of a company's most valuable resources: time and talent. Collaborative and effective meetings energize employees.