Structuring Effective Meetings

If you are an organisation or individual seeking to create an effective future, the key medium you have to effect this is in how you meet with others.

Meetings are the primary mechanism by which we: generate enthusiasm, inspire creativity, build ownership, engage diversity, reinforce culture, nurture teamwork, grow people, sell ideas, develop solutions, and effect a whole other bunch of valuable outcomes – loyalty, confidence, trust, vision to name a few.

They are also the primary mechanism by which we do the total opposite.

Effective meetings are about maximising positive value of meetings described above through efficiently (and recognisably) using participants’ time to add that value to themselves, to their work, and/or to others.

Effective meetings are ones in which the yellow arrows in the diagram on the right actively strengthen and grow the other arrows.

But what makes meetings effective?

A clear objective and a good agenda to deliver that objective are certainly key. But what of the approach taken to delivering the agenda, and of the attitudes that people bring to the meeting? How do they impact effectiveness, and is one of these, the approach or the attitudes, more important than the other?

Analysis shows us that the design of the meeting is important, but how people participate is twice as important. However, the two things are closely related, and it is when good structure comes together with good participation that meetings can be truly effective – even transformational.

For this to work, the structure needs to provide what is necessary for good participation, and the participation needs to fully exploit the opportunities and value of the structure – the two need to work hand in hand. So, what does that look like in practice?

The framework below provides two useful checklists to identify responsibilities for each and how they work together.

This framework is expanded in more depth in the document: Structuring and Participating in Effective Meetings, which provides a deeper explanation of the 6As in the framework, and outlines further ideas and resources which can be used to maximise the benefits.

It is written as a straightforward guide to ensure that meetings are structured effectively, and that participants take full ownership of their impact on the ‘conversation’ that is happening through that structure. You can download a copy here.

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