Instructor-led training - conducting meetings course

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Conducting MeetingsConducting Meetings

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Below are some extracts from our Conducting Meetings manual.

Conducting Meetings

 

Location and Setting

On-Site Meetings

Where you hold the meeting can greatly affect the outcome. You need to think about what sort of atmosphere you are trying to create.

Informal Meetings

If you are holding an informal, creative brainstorming meeting, a room with soft chairs and a relaxed atmosphere will probably encourage people to open up and suggest ideas more than in a formal boardroom. It might also be better to be in an open plan area rather than behind closed doors.

Formal Meetings

If you are trying to present a professional image to a client or need to have a formal meeting with a tight agenda, sitting around on soft chairs will probably not generate the right impression or result in a very effective meeting. Here you want a room with a large table and chairs arranged around each side, ideally with the chairperson at top of the table.

A large room for a small number of people can be a little intimidating. Equally a small room with too many people can become uncomfortable. Pay attention to ventilation, because if a room becomes too stuffy it can have a bad effect on concentration levels. Ideally, also you do not want any distracting noises, views or interruptions.

Off-Site Meetings

Holding a meeting away from the normal environment can be extremely beneficial. It is most suitable for ‘think-tank’ meetings where you are trying to determine strategy or a long-term vision. Being totally away from the workplace prevents distractions and can generate a more creative climate.

Being off-site also has the added dimension of socialising, particularly if there is overnight accommodation or an evening meal after the day's events. This can be useful for team building and encourages people to relax and open up. Being invited to such an event can be recognition for people of their position as a highly valued member of the team.

Room Layout

Cabaret Style

All delegates facing front‐centre on round tables. Presenter normally works from the front-centre area of the room. Ideal for small group work.

Classroom Style

Used to present in front of small to medium groups. Delegates (in ones or twos) have own workspace. Ideal for testing and individual training. 

U-Shape Style

Seating around three sides of the room ‐ good for presentations from the front. Square layout conducive to discussion. Presentation space in the centre of the room.

Hollow Square Style

Appropriate for groups fewer than 40 where there is a group leader or panel seated at the head of the setup.

Theatre Style

Used for product launches, presentations, displays. Used to present to large numbers of delegates. Allows for optimal room occupancy with no obscured views.

Boardroom Style

(can be adapted to a hollow square layout) Centrally located table, classic layout ideal for debate and discussion. Popular for smaller meetings.

 

Communication

Building Rapport in Meetings

“Be friendly but stay professional,”

- Ceniza-Levine

1. Raise Commonalities

Just mentioning your participation in a common hobby, such as running, can seem strained or out of place in a conference room. Try to identify commonalities within the workplace.

2. Source Your Research

Avoid seeming like a stalker by explaining how you discovered commonalities in professional or personal interests. Citing a readily available reference tool instantly establishes business context and credibility.

3. Take Cues from Others

“If the other person seems keen to continue discussing the hobbies and other interests in common, then you have an invitation to continue,” says Ceniza-Levine. “If the other person laughs or jokes back, then you might continue the banter. If the other person isn’t responsive or changes the subject or tone, redirect your subject and tone.”

Conference Call Meetings

Rapport building is a vital skill for anyone who meets using conference calls. It allows business communication to become more efficient and more effective by acting as a platform for discussion. Participants then operate in a smooth flow of conversation, patience and mutual respect.

 

The Agenda

An agenda is a meeting plan that outlines, in order, topics that will be discussed. This could be a formal or informal outline. An agenda can be very simple with one or two items, but time allotments for discussion are important.

The success of any meeting is the attitude and leadership of the chairperson; you. In a meeting, the chairperson is the leader and, as such, must perform the same function as the leader of any working group.

Having decided on the purpose, the agenda provides a route-map and a direction for everyone. Formal groups that meet regularly should adopt a formal style for agendas. The key items are outlined below:

Chairperson's introduction

This is where the purpose of the meeting can be outlined.

Apologies for absence

Those unable to attend should send apologies beforehand and these should be read out.

Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes should have been circulated prior to the meeting for all to read.

Matters arising from the minutes

Items not included in the main body of the agenda.

The main points to be discussed in a logical order

Any other business

Not all meetings need to follow this structure, particularly if they are one-off gatherings. However, even with impromptu meetings, it is important that people are clear about the purpose.

Minutes

At the end of most meetings, there is usually some information to be communicated. Minutes are one way of ensuring that people know what took place at the meeting. Ideally, they should be written up as soon as possible and circulated if possible the next day. If you have been given the task of writing the minutes, the sooner you do it the more you will remember and the more accurate an account of events it will be.

Minutes should be kept as brief as possible and should be an accurate account of what happened. It is a good idea to show the chairperson the minutes before circulating them just to check that he/she agrees it is an accurate account.

Use an impersonal and objective style of writing. Try not to get bogged down with too much detail.

Key areas to cover in the minutes are outlined below:

·      where and when

·      who chaired it

·      who attended

·      who gave apologies

·      a statement that the minutes of the last meeting were agreed, if applicable

·      a summary of the main points discussed

·      who takes what action and by what date

·      date of the next meeting, if there is to be one

Other Methods

Minutes are not the only method of communicating information after a meeting and are not always the best method. If two or three items on the agenda only affect certain departments, it may be preferable to send an email outlining those key points.

You could also use the company newsletter or intranet for general information to keep staff up-to-date. Some meetings may take such major decisions that it is necessary to write and send out a report.

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