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The Eight Ps for Effective Meetings

In a Professional environment, meetings are both inevitable and necessary for effective communication and coordination. Please follow Eight Ps for any Professional Learning Community meetings throughout the year. Be PUNCTUAL. Meeting attendance is an excellent indicator of the way people view the importance of others time. If you are attending a meeting, you should make a concerted effort to be on time and stay for the duration of the meeting. If you have a prior commitment and suspect that you may be late to the meeting or that you may need to leave early, communicate that to the meeting facilitator as soon as possible prior to the meeting date. Be PREPARED. The key to a successful meeting lies in the preparation of the facilitator and the attendees. As the meeting facilitator, your preparation sets the tone for the meeting long before the first agenda item is discussed. Agenda items, especially ones that will require reflective thought and discussion by all involved should be sent out to the participants in advance. Each participant should attend the meeting fully prepared to be an active participant. Be PARTICIPATORY. A good meeting involves interaction among the facilitator and the attendees. If you are the meeting facilitator, foster an atmosphere of participation by asking for attendees opinions, ideas, and feedback. Build enough time into the meeting agenda to allow for discussion. Try to avoid cutting short productive discussion. If time does become a factor, agree to table the discussion and resolve to revisit the issue at a follow-up meeting. Additionally, as the facilitator, it is incumbent upon you to create a meeting climate where everyone feels comfortable expressing his or her opinion. Make it a point to engage any attendees who have not had an opportunity to speak. If you are attending the meeting, exercise your active listening muscles. Take notes during the meeting. Use nonverbal communication to show you are actively invested in the discussion. When appropriate, ask questions and offer suggestions. Clarify any misunderstandings by paraphrasing what you have understood the speaker to have said and asking if your understanding is correct. Be willing to listen to others questions and comments. This serves a tow-fold purpose. First, youll be less apt to ask a question that has already been answered. Second, youll be able to contribute something new as opposed to re-stating what has already been shared. When participating in the discussion, be succinct in your comments and keep them relevant to the topic on the table. Be POSITIVE. During a meeting, ideas are being shared, opinions are being shaped and challenged, and new approaches to solving problems are being proposed. In doing all of this, however, it is essential to keep the conversation positive. In voicing disagreement, be certain to refrain from making personal attacks or automatically dismissing others contributions because they may not be in line with your way of thinking. Remember that you can disagree agreeably. Rather than dwell on problems or challenges, offer creative solutions. Resist the urge to point fingers. Work together to reach a positive outcome. Be PRODUCTIVE. Every meeting should have purpose, goals, and/or objectives. It is the responsibility of the meeting facilitator to establish and communicate them to the other participants. The goals and/or objectives may be as simple as addressing each line item on the agenda, or it may be as complex as developing a new procedure or solving a problem. Whatever the goal of the meeting, the facilitator and attendees alike should approach the meeting with a mindset of being productive and ultimately accomplishing the goal(s). Be POLITE. If you are attending the meeting, turn off any electronic communication devices. Better yet, if laptops and other electronic devices are not necessary, no not bring them to the meeting. Side conversations, working on something not relations to the meeting, texting or emailing are all disrespectful to the other participants and should not be tolerated. As a polite attendee, youll want to give your undivided attention to the issue at hand and the other participants. In addition, monopolizing the discussion, negative body language, rolling of the eyes, and deep sighs are all disrespectful and impolite. Be PROACTIVE. If you are the meeting facilitator, it is your responsibility to bring the meeting to a successful conclusion. Review the goals that were achieved; set a tentative date and time for a follow-up meeting if necessary; and assign participants tasks that must be accomplished. Confirm deadlines for completion of those tasks or a specific date by which status reports should be given. For the other participants, demonstrate that you care by volunteering to serve on a committee or complete a task. Be PROFESSIONAL. The most important P is saved for last. Your reputation for professionalism can be solidified and called into question based on the way you conduct yourself during a meeting. Maintain the respect of your peers and supervisors by being no less than the consummate professional.