Meetings + Events

The power of gathering people

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Tips for Successful Meetings

Ensure your pivotal face-to-face meetings are effective and powerful

Ida Shessel, president of Thornhill, Ont.-based Let Us Facilitate (letusfacilitate.com) and author of 77 Tips for Absolutely Great Meetings and Meeting With Success: Tips for Great Meetings (Multi-Media Publications Inc., mmpubs.com) has more than 20 years of experience as a facilitator in the business and academic sectors. She works under the acronym structure that every meeting should have a “POINT.” Here’s how:

P for Purpose. Everyone has attended a meeting where the purpose is not really defined, and ramblings, disagreements and time-wasting chatter is the result. Shessel says to summarize the purpose in one sentence, such as “to generate a list of possible meeting venues.”

O for Organization. While you don’t have to go overboard with pages and pages of direction, a one-page agenda containing timing, presenter responsibilities and follow-up actions will help attendees feel like they know what’s ahead and what to expect.

I for Interaction. Always set aside some time for all meeting members to have a chance to express ideas and freestyle idea generating—even five to 10 minutes set aside for a brainstorming session, for example, will up the energy in the room and give tired brains a jolt.

N for Navigation. Every successful meeting has a captain that steers the ship, says Shessel. Most of the time it is the most senior person in the room, but not always. In some innovative situations, a meeting leader is assigned who is responsible for keeping discussions on track and the meeting moving towards its intended goal. “In other words, good leadership that steers the meeting, taking control when necessary to avoid derailments and other difficult situations,” she says.

T for Tasks Assigned. Dole out all the small tasks that meeting attendees will enjoy being part of. Make sure there is a timekeeper, a note-taker, contributors and a facilitator. It’s easy to see how setting up a solid base in advance allows ideas to flow freely through a secure structure.

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