How to Keep a Meeting Moving

TalkingEDUSmall.jpgExcept for the freelancer working alone at home in their comfort clothes, the majority of us who still work with others in a company setting know the agony and bliss of meetings. Unfortunately most of us seldom remark about the good meetings. The ones that were organized, informative, collaborative, and results oriented. It’s the meetings where participants wander in after the start, where the leader was unprepared and the topic fuzzy at best, that reinforces a certain kind of dread on receiving yet another email meeting invite.

In How to Keep a Meeting Moving, Nicole Matos, Phd. Community College Career Coach, defines a successful meeting as “the kind where something actually gets done. A good meeting needs to be a means to an end — a decision, a resolution, a plan of action.” Her blog post, which appears on Vitae, an online career hub for faculty and administrators, offers some succinct steps you can take to lead a results oriented meeting.

Clearly a minimalist, Dr. Matos, advocates for a lean agenda that features a single topic. “Beware the smorgasbord of a thousand agenda items— that sort of meeting goes flabby the fastest.” She stresses the need for specificity to keep meetings on topic and focused more than once. A successful meeting produces results, results that are captured on paper. This is not to say that Dr. Matos isn’t in favor of “adjusting and fine tuning.” She’s simply looking to avoid, “the endlessly retrograde meeting where participants second-guess previously established decisions.” And, honestly, haven’t we all been there over and over again?

Many will recognize some of Dr. Matos’ suggestions but, what makes her blog post different from the more generic 7 Ways to Run a Successful meeting is her insights into human nature: How to avoid letting the more aggressive or domineering voices overtake a meeting; How to illicit reluctant volunteers to participate, and assigning work to the right individual, “nicely, equitably.” Dr. Matos, uses the phrase “unconscious mental deferment” to describe the human tendency to put things off. It is this subliminal desire to procrastinate that leads to more and more unproductive meetings.”

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