8 Essentials for Facilitating Effective Meetings
By Gavin Grift
The challenge of trying to run an effective meeting is a major headache for many educators.
How can you ensure your meetings, particularly when you’re working in a collaborative context, are happy, productive, efficient and purposeful?
Here are eight essentials from the book, Mastering Meetings that Matter, which I co-authored with Colin Sloper and Heather De Blasio.
1.Set the scene
Make sure all team members understand the team norms, or who you are and how you work together. Has your team actually established norms? Does everyone understand what they are? Have the norms been discussed, rather than just written down?
Are they monitored through the course of every meeting? And have you identified norms such as: ‘We will listen respectfully’, ‘We’ll start on time’, ‘We’ll finish on time’?
Also ensure that all members are clear about their role.
Does everybody, or at least most people, have a role to play? Is there a chairperson, a timekeeper, a minute keeper? A norm monitor?
It’s important that everybody has some responsibility for the team’s success.
3.Make it relevant
This is vital for ensuring that the agenda items progress the team’s purpose or goals.
But there’s two assumptions here: that your team knows why it exists, and secondly, that the team knows the purpose of collaboration itself.
Digging deeper into the second point, we should also know why each agenda item is there.
Each item should require the whole team to engage in dialogue and discussion. If they don’t, why are they there?
4.Build your skills
Continue to strengthen your meeting facilitation skills as you work through the agenda.
Think about some protocols you can introduce, such as a micro-strategy like simply pausing when someone has said something. This means it will hang in the air, and people will actually listen.
Ensure agenda items for the next meeting are developed collaboratively at the current meeting.
We don’t want this to just fall on the team leader.
So before you finish the current meeting, ask yourselves: ‘OK, what’s on the agenda for next week?’ ‘In two weeks or three weeks, what are we agreeing to as a result of our work here?’
6.Be on the same page
Are the actions you have all agreed to understood by everyone?
You should never assume that everyone has understood this in exactly the same way you have, so it’s important that there’s space in the meeting for everyone to understand what was decided.
Ensure non-essential items don’t dominate the agenda. We don’t want the school camp to take up 45 minutes of the agenda when we’ve got assessments that also need to be discussed.
8.Beware the interruptions
Lastly, all team members should be informed of, and clear about, any school happenings coming up that may impact meetings.
Colleagues and other educators often tell me that this is a common challenge.
Mostly we know what’s happening in advance. So plan the work that needs to be done with these events in mind.