HOW TO CONDUCT A MEETING

One of the biggest complaints about most organizations is meetings . . . they waste too much of our precious time. This is bad news for organizations. Meetings are important because that is where an organization’s culture and climate perpetuates itself. Meetings are one of the ways that an organization tells its workers: “You are a member.” If you have bad, boring, and time-wasting meetings, then the people begin to believe that this is a bad and boring company that does not care about time. Likewise, great meetings tell the workers, “This is a GREAT organization to be working for!” Also, remember that bad meetings lead to more bad meetings which cost even more money. Why are there so many bad meetings? Poor planning by the meeting’s organizer and a lack of involvement by the participants. Listed below are some guidelines for conducting effective meetings. PREPARE FOR THE MEETING 1. Define the objectives and desired outcomes. Know what you are trying to achieve by having a meeting. 2. Determine if a different activity could be used besides a meeting. A lot of wasted meetings are called when a couple of phone calls, e-mail or one-on-ones would have worked better. 3. Determine topics to cover and the best format for the discussion of each one. Know what you want to get accomplished by the meeting. 4. Estimate the length of the meeting. People need to know how long to plan for the meeting. 5. Create an agenda that is carefully scripted. 6. Deliver agenda in advance so that the participants have time to plan and prepare for the meeting. 7. Make every meeting a learning event: incorporate creative and cutting edge education on a topic. 8. Use a variety of tools and activities to make the meeting productive and fun . . . get them charged up! PREPARE TO ATTEND A MEETING (for participants) 1. Know the purpose of the meeting. Know what your purpose for attending is. 2. Gather all data that you need to bring to the meeting. 3. Know the agenda of the meeting and ensure your agenda coincides with the meeting agenda. 4. Know your role and the path that you are going to follow. 5. Arrive on time and be prepared to stay until at least the planned stop time. 6. Take the meeting seriously, but do have some fun while attending. SET UP THE MEETING PLACE 1. Select a physical setting that is comfortable, big enough, and will serve the purpose. 2. Create a warm and attractive atmosphere conducive to interaction. 3. Provide appropriate refreshments. 4. Have appropriate visual aids and learning aids on hand. 5. Always do something a little different and new. Make them glad that they came. ASSIGN A NOTE TAKER (MINUTES) 1. Who attended. 2. What problems were discussed.

5. Take time to tell and hear stories. 4. Vary the pace: speed up. 6. Make all next steps specific assignments. 6. Ensure all people are heard. 4. 7. you guide the process. Stay focused on the agenda topics. vendors. Use brainstorming techniques. judges. 4. Record ideas and notes on a flip chart. take breaks. other lawyers on the other side of the matter. While this chapter is intended primarily for face-to-face meetings. Periodically summarize key points and ask for agreement. how each member will be heard. 3. other lawyers on your side of the matter. You will be in meetings with clients. 2. Let the people carry the content. 7. KEEP THE MEETING FOCUSED AND MOVING 1. .com Next topic How to Conduct a Meeting (Foonberg's Ten Rules) Lawyers spend a lot of time in meetings. 4. A well-run meeting results in confidence in you as a leader. 8. Assign next steps throughout the meeting. 5. protect new ideas. Set the ground rules: when the meeting will end. insurance adjusters. Clarify the type of participation and interaction desired. 3. Get information and data from the meeting. START THE MEETING 1. slow down. opinions and questions. Key decisions reached. Ask for different points of view. CONDUCT THE MEETING 1. Keep the group aware of where they are in the process. Copyright 1997 by Don Clark: donclark@nwlink. A poorly run meeting will result in everyone being angry or frustrated and blaming you for wasting their time when they had more important things to do. Communicate the purpose and desired outcomes to all participants. Acknowledge and reinforce constructive contributions. Clarify and paraphrase key ideas. 3.3. Help the group reach consensus and reach conclusions. staff. it can apply equally to telephone conferences and video conferences with others. You will be recognized as a person in charge upon whom clients and others can rely and look to for leadership and counseling. Show that you value their ideas. what is expected. Next steps: who needs to accomplish a task. 2. start and end date of task and what is exactly needed. etc. Do not wander off topic or become distracted. 2. Use the agenda to stay on track.

?" By making this statement. Try to set a beginning and ending time before the meeting so that people can plan their activities around the meeting. You might even state. Mr. Stop them with public statements the others can hear You may wish to ask them to see you privately after the meeting. unless the purpose of the meeting is clearly set forth.. announce at the beginning of the meeting. Am I correct in saying the purpose of this meeting is . The book is available from the American Bar Association. Try to end all meetings . people will not be communicating with one another. If necessary. The purpose of the agenda is to be sure that everyone understands why they are there and the purpose of the meeting.. Each will be discussing a different subject. B. All rights reserved. Foonberg's permission. I want to be sure I understand what we will be discussing today. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of Jay Foonberg. Ms.. 402 0000013 How to Conduct a Meeting (Foonberg's Ten Rules) Page 1 of 4 "How to Start and Build a Law Practice" 5th Edition. They will blame you for not completing their daily work assignments. Tell the person. "Pardon me. I will be glad to put it on the agenda for the next meeting. Do not allow you or your client to be booby-trapped with lastminute agenda items. If there is no written agenda because of time urgency or because the meeting is an unscheduled meeting. Reproduced with Mr.. "The purpose of this meeting is. at which time you will discuss the new subject. Do not assume that people know the purpose of the meeting." Again. unaware of the fact that you are not communicating with one another Do not allow "surprises" that you are not prepared to discuss. 2. Have a written agenda even if there is only one item being discussed. If someone else has called the meeting and has not provided a written agenda or made an announcement of purpose. including your own. you should make the statement... "Let me write this down. you will be saving everyone's time. Managing the Law Office I 403 The person who habitually comes late to meetings is challenging you and your ability to lead. You could say something like.. You can then relate the total hourly dollar value of the people in the meeting as your reason for starting on time and progressing without going back over previously discussed items. There may be no communication between you. The purpose of this meeting is. may think she is there to discuss another thing. Unless you have a written agenda. and you will be establishing yourself as a leader rather than a follower on the team. Mr. A. Without an ending time. real or contrived. Jones. © 2004 by Jay Foonberg. you risk people getting up and walking out because of other commitments." 3.These rules can help you save your time and money.. and you may think the purpose of the meeting is to attend to a third matter. that is not on the agenda. "I am sorry. call for a new meeting after the present meeting. will think he is there to discuss one thing." You must be firm. 1.

Mary.. your time is up. We all understand you. the judge said to me. at any one time." 7. 404 I How to Start and Build a Law Practice 4. you may wish to repeat the Foonberg Rule of knowing when to stop talking. actually gives a small egg timer to each person at the meeting and announces the person either has three or six minutes to say what they want to say. The book is available from the American Bar Association. and decisions will be made without their input. stop them immediately. We'll come back to you if there is time after everyone else has had their say. I'm inclined to rule in favor of your clients. "Mr. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of Jay Foonberg. "I'm sorry you're late. John." Alternatively. exchange input. or orally." If they are habitually late in order to establish self-importance. Richard Ferguson of Alberta. or to take some action that may be influenced by what happens at the meeting. © 2004 by Jay Foonberg. whether the purpose of the particular meeting is merely to discuss a problem. you are going to. People will become angry when meetings take place and nothing happens when they are expecting something to happen. and will not invite them in the future. during a trial.on schedule or earlier." or "We have decided not to change our . If someone comes in late (normally announcing they had something more important to do in order to establish how important they are). You are beginning to anger us by unnecessarily going on. "We only have five minutes left." If they go into the reasons they missed. The amount of time devoted should normally depend on the importance of the subject. Do not let people ramble beyond the three or six minute limit. All rights reserved. Come see me later or read the minutes to find out what you missed. It is better to continue a meeting to another mutually agreeable time and place than to go on and on. Reproduced with Mr. I often relate the following. State. Try not to go beyond ninety minutes without a break or an ending. mentioned earlier: Once." You might state. embarrass them by stating.. S. "We have decided to change our system. 0000013 How to Conduct a Meeting (Foonberg's Ten Rules) Page 2 of 4 "How to Start and Build a Law Practice" 5th Edition.. End the meeting on time with an announcement of personal responsibilities and decision making. Foonberg's permission. "I'm sorry. we've already discussed this. "You've made your point.. who was chair of the Canadian Bar Association's Law Practice Management and Technology Section. 6. Announce in the written agenda.. "I'm sorry. Let's be sure we understand our next steps. Limit the amount of time any one person can speak. Show them the palms of your hands and tell them. but keep talking and you may convince me to change my mind. Foonberg. Perhaps next time you would like to prepare a written handout in advance so we can give your thoughts more attention.. Canada. tell them you won't bother them with the meetings. you are going to." This tells the person.

but try to avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks. Some firms also provide napkins with the firm name." "Mary. Reproduced with Mr. Foonberg's permission. Be flexible. Tell the receptionist the names of those expected to be in attendance at the meeting so he or she will know what to do with their incoming calls. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of Jay Foonberg. well-lit room. There's nothing wrong with ending a meeting in half the scheduled time when there's nothing left to discuss or decide or if the meeting is out of control. you'll send a memo to each of us (or to me) by the 20th. All rights reserved. Assure the attendees that the receptionist knows the attendees are in the meeting and will take messages." "We have not decided what to do about the X problem. Set time limits for accomplishing next steps. done. 8. Place a new legal pad and a new pencil at each seat. A well-run meeting leaves all those who attend with a sense of empowerment and control over their lives. Pay attention to both motive and motif. The book is available from the American Bar Association." "Sam. you'll contact Mr. or contributed. thank them in writing. Praise them in front of the others as a reward for attending and participating." Record these time limits and remind people in writing immediately after the meeting of what they are expected to do. All rights reserved. you'll have your report by the 15th. Provide liquids. 0000013 How to Conduct a Meeting (Foonberg's Ten Rules) Page 3 of 4 "How to Start and Build a Law Practice" 5th Edition. "John. Reproduced with Mr." Be sure each person (including yourself) has a clear understanding of what they are expected to do and of what was or was not decided. Try to hold the meeting in a clean. Jones by Friday and let us all know the response. Try to say something about what each person has said. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of Jay Foonberg. Managing the Law Office I 405 9. If appropriate. © 2004 by Jay Foonberg. It's all right to extend a meeting just a little if the goals of the meeting are being met in an orderly manner. are preferable to sticky cakes or candies. Foonberg's permission. which can be eaten without making a mess. © 2004 by Jay Foonberg. . Every meeting develops its own dynamics. and establishes you as a leader 10. Cookies. which may cause people to leave frequently to go to the restroom. Some big Wall Street firms and European law firms put out new legal pads with the firm's name. 0000013 How to Conduct a Meeting (Foonberg's Ten Rules) Page 4 of 4 "How to Start and Build a Law Practice 5th Edition.system. city and telephone number across the top of the legal pad and on the new pencils. hoping the attendees will take them as a form of marketing. Thank each person orally for their input. The book is available from the American Bar Association.

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seriously consider canceling the meeting. Well. but there are many times some people meet just to meet. While it may be nice to catch up with our colleagues. . Are we meeting to announce a new program? Is this meeting being used to solicit volunteers for a special project? Is this meeting going to inform participants about progress on a particular program? Whatever the reason. This occurs most commonly in those organizations or groups that have a standing time and place to conduct business. The fact is.This title has 14 articles. 2. you have decided that you need to have a meeting. take a few minutes and focus on what is the goal of meeting. before you start booking your conference room. too many meetings are run poorly. having an idea of the objectives of the meeting will allow your agenda preparation to go smoother. Click here to see all the articles rated and ranked by Helium members. the eight easy steps will make your next meeting a success! 1. Why Meet? This may be an obvious question to answer. • • • • • • • • • • • • 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 of 14 by William Lutz • • • A A A In the professional work environment. Hopefully. nothing is more frustrating than participating in a meeting that is poorly run. an individual may feel relief that the pain and agony are over. Focus on the goal Okay. if there is no business to discuss. After attending such a meeting. but feel disgusted that at least one hour of their life was completely and totally wasted.

The minutes provide the information your attendees need to make sure that future issues are adequately addressed and to keep the lines of communication open between all participants of the meeting. If the meeting is at a meal time. Who should I invite? Sometimes. It is also critically important that you designate someone to take notes at the meeting as a clear record of what was discussed. participants should only speak one at a time. Find your room and get it scheduled Once you have an idea of how many people you plan to invite. there should be some sense of order. Have a good understand of what you want to discuss and what order you want the discussion to take place and get our ideas on paper. You may also want to discuss scheduling a follow-up meeting. Below are the top articles rated and ranked by Helium members on: . have some idea of what your invitees can bring to the board room. Make sure there are plenty of chairs and tables for participants to use. and individual should keep their comments to the topic at hand. This will allow you to have the flow of the meeting clear in your head before the meeting and it will give a clear idea to your attendees on what to expect. or people that we have to invite. Whatever the reason. 5. you should make sure to thank the participants for attending and inform them that you will provide copies of the minutes to them within a short period of time. In some instances. think about whom you are inviting and why you are inviting them. Close the meeting After the meeting. before any meeting of any size. you may find it helpful to review the agenda and go over ground rules for the meeting. consider providing a light meal. Such as. prepare an agenda and distribute before the meeting. or people that we know will help. Ask yourself if they have particular resources that will be helpful? Do they have a positive attitude? Bottom line. Attending the meeting Make sure you arrive at the meeting location before your meeting begins. 8. While you do not have to have a rigidly structured meeting. as well and make sure that information is reflected in the minutes. William Lutz. Administer the meeting When the meeting begins. Learn more about this author. Make sure that there are plenty of chairs and tables and make sure the attendees have copies of all agendas and materials that will be discussed during the meeting. at least do this one. 4. get it scheduled and find a place to have your meeting. if possible. Agenda preparation If you are not going to do any of the steps in this list. this step is never really thoroughly thought through. 6.3. 7. we just invite our friends.

read more • 3 of 14 by Lesley Mason This isn't about whether the meeting is necessary you wouldn't be holding it.. the above definition does fit some meetin. read more • 2 of 14 by Hal Lillywhite Meeting: An event in which minutes are kept and hours are wasted.How to conduct effective meetings • 1 of 14 by William Lutz In the professional work environment. The heavy.... one of the most dreaded phrases is "there's a meeting you need to attend". if it wasn't. Many meetings are a pure waste of time. right? This isn't abo. Sadly.. read more • 4 of 14 by Eric Santani I guess that you have attended meetings and come out of them and wondered why. Write now! . read more View All Articles on: How to conduct effective meetings Add your voice Know something about How to conduct effective meetings? We want to hear your view. nothing is more frustrating than participating in a meeting that is poorly run... read more • 5 of 14 by R Shimoda For those in Corporate America.....

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