Meeting Management

Meeting management – What happens during the meeting; how it is run, and by who.

The four stages of meeting management were described in earlier blogs (here and here) as:

  • Preparation – what happens before the meeting
  • Meeting management – what happens during a meeting
  • Follow-through – what happens after to ensure decisions are acted on Feedback – policies and procedures that encourage best practices

Preparation was described as having two phases. In the first, you decide if a meeting should be held (whether or not a meeting is the best way to achieve the ends you are after). In the second phase of preparation, after you have decided to call a meeting, you set the stage for a productive meeting through preparation.

  • First: gain consensus on the purpose and content (decisions and agenda).
  • Second: prepare everyone in advance for agenda items (background reading).

Preparation sets the stage

Meeting preparation is a lot of work. It is often more work than the meeting itself. In general, meeting owners under-prepare; too little is done in advance. This greatly increases the difficulty of having a productive meeting.

Who Should Run a Meeting?

The most senior person present or a trained facilitator with appropriate authority should be in charge of a meeting. The person in charge must have the authority, skill and tact to start and stop conversations. They must be able to control what is being discussed, by whom and how. They must be in charge. Meetings must be ‘managed.’ Someone must be at the helm. That someone must have the authority necessary to ‘steer’ the meeting. If they do not, there is no telling where the meeting will end up.

Facilitator’s Role

Facilitators are responsible for enforcing rules of order. Whose rules of order? The organization’s. Of course every organization has different rules. There are even different rules between departments within an organization.

The degree of formality that an organization imposes on meetings plays a big role in the average productivity level. More rules equal more productivity. It is not that a laissez-faire meeting can’t be productive. It’s just that not very many of them are.

Facilitator or Preparation?

A good facilitator can help make up for a lack of adequate preparation. Skilled facilitators will make any meeting more productive. The less preparation done in advance, the more skilled the facilitator will need to be in order to extract value out of a meeting. Facilitators who have the right authority will help to ensure that meetings are properly prepared for. They will cancel meetings that are unlikely to succeed. The facilitator does not want to be blamed for failure caused by a lack of planning on the part of a meeting owner

In this article

Join the Conversation