Meetings under control

Meetings may be a necessity in your business, but they don’t have to be tedious. Here are some effective invigorators…


Let’s start a fresh year with a commitment to productive meetings. Too many times meetings go on and on, people are bored or don’t need to be there at all. Gen-X and Gen-Y staff tend to get bored in long drawn out meetings – so baby boomers beware, and keep your meetings under control.


Meetings need to be effective and controlled! And there are seven steps to do this – using the CONTROL formula.


Time management
Resolve conflicts
List action



Convinced a meeting is necessary?


We should always be convinced a meeting is necessary. Unnecessary meetings waste a lot of time, energy and money. We should always question if a meeting is needed or could the same goal be achieved in some other form of communication. And what would happen if we didn’t meet?



Objectives – clear agenda


If you are convinced a meeting is necessary, go ahead and call it. But always start off by being clear about your desired objectives. Have an agenda. Email it to all participants or outline it at the start of any meeting. Clearly state what the meeting is for and how long it will last. It can even be helpful to allocate approximate timings for each item.



Navigate to stay on track


This is all about finding your way through a sea of distractions and tangents. There are four techniques that will help you do this effectively:


  1. Invite participation; find different ways to encourage everyone’s involvement.
  2. Stop tangents, politely.
  3. Summarise periodically to keep everyone on track.
  4. Suggest a path of action when people are stuck; be a problem solver.


These four navigation skills are really useful ways to ensure you stay on course and get your objectives met within the time allocated.



Time management


It is critical to stick to times when you are running a meeting. Mention timings – how much longer, how long you have already been discussing anything, and keep everyone on course. Of course you need to remain flexible if there are urgent changes or issues to deal with that cannot be rescheduled.



Resolve conflicts


Resolving conflict is essential for keeping a meeting under control.

When a conflict is not managed properly it wastes time and people can lose respect for the person managing the meeting. Sometimes a conflict can be resolved by a majority decision vote, or ideally a creative solution that everyone can be happy with.



Outcomes should be clear


An effective meeting has clear outcomes, where things are not left unresolved. Unfortunately so often there is a lot of talk, many points of view, and a deferral to some time in the future rather than dealing with it now. It’s very disappointing that so many issues get re-scheduled rather than pushing for a clear outcome.



List actions


Once you have ensured concrete outcomes, the final step of controlling meetings is to list actions. When listing actions, it can be useful to have a clear statement of who will be doing what by when.








Eve Ash is a psychologist, managing director of Seven Dimensions, and co-producer with Peter Quarry of the popular DVD Meetings Under Control from the Teamwork Essentials series © Ash.Quarry Productions




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