As a leader, you must consistently drive effective communication. Meetings must be deliberate and intentional – your organizational rhythm should value purpose over habit and effectiveness over efficiency – Chris Fussell
Just imagine this ….
Invigorating meetings are what make the world go round. The goal is clear, and accomplishing it is vital to everyone who is participating in the process. There is an agenda, which is typically developed with collaborative input, and the group proceeds through the agenda at a moderate pace, without moving too quickly or too slowly, adapting as needed, and always keeping the final goal in mind.
During the meeting, everyone participates and makes a contribution. Our meetings frequently have a period of time where the group is in a state of “flow,” feeling a sense of timelessness that fosters deep creativity and connection, even when the work itself is incredibly difficult to complete.
And, at their most fundamental level, great meetings are enjoyable.
Is this what your meetings are always like?
Given the fact that every meeting has the potential to be a rich source of adult learning, it stands to reason that excellent meetings have a lot in common with excellent classrooms. In both, people are actively engaged in difficult tasks that require them to use their intellect, solve difficulties, and communicate with one another. Facilitators at meetings are similar to skilled teachers who take on various roles, sharing the work and meaning – making with the participants in the same way that teachers actively engage pupils. And in both cases, all participants are aware of the social standards that they are required to adhere to, and each interaction is designed to aid in the reinforcement of those social norms.
High school meetings and all other meetings must be places for learning. The facilitator’s roadmap is defined by a meeting agenda, which determines how a group will approach their common but often distant goal by working through a few phases in a given meeting. A wise facilitator would not use an agenda as a straitjacket, but rather as a resource to be altered as conditions change. This is precisely like how teachers frequently alter their lesson plans in the present based on what is happening.
To truly help learning, the meeting must either have learning in it or must be connected to learning in some way. A support plan for a student’s education may be designed by an intervention team working with a parent, a lesson’s performance assessed by a teacher team, the running of buses analysed by an operations team, or the accessibility of rich out-of-school experiences discussed by a district team. In each instance, to make any significant progress, adults must do or think something different, and it is simple to connect the meeting’s goal to improvements in learning.
Four Things to Consider
When organising a meeting, there are four critical factors to consider.
Purpose: The single most effective thing you can do to have a good meeting is to be very clear about why you are meeting and what you intend to achieve.
Process: It is critical to be clear about what needs to be accomplished during the meeting. However, it is also vital to consider how to engage the group in working toward the stated goals.
Preparation: Consider what more the facilitator and participants could do ahead of time to ensure a smooth meeting.
Pacing: Before you finalise your plan, go over the details and double-check that your minutes are adding up and that you are spending them in the proper areas. Then take a step back to look at the big picture and make sure you’re ready to have the meeting you really want to have.
A successful meeting, like a good classroom experience, includes a defined aim, a smart plan for accomplishing that purpose, and a group working together to accomplish that goal.
None of us became educators to be champion meeting planners, facilitators, or participants—but sensible meetings can help deliver on a commitment to better learning and teaching for all kids in our care.
Meetings as Powerful Learning Spaces
No meeting is worthwhile unless it is both compelling and educational. In order for students to attain greater success—and in many other matters of importance—schools need adults to learn with each other and with others. The one practise most effective in improving organisational learning is the regular use of excellent meetings. However, this issue arises: what makes a gathering truly exceptional?
A meeting isn’t necessary if the relationship between the meeting and learning is not evident. Because of the rapid access to information, can the business be addressed in a different way? Besides, there are some things that don’t need to be discussed in a meeting!
Either way, if this information is so vital, why not make sure that the meeting time is used to educate everyone of it and ensure that no one is left in the dark? How about having polling clickers that are paired with a quiz? Involving meeting participants in peer-to-peer instruction? Do you think we should provide small groups the chance to apply their knowledge to their daily work?
When participants endure a meeting in which they’re lectured for more than thirty minutes without raising any objections, that’s an indication that the meeting culture values endurance over learning. If you cannot explain why a meeting that includes adults and will eventually serve teaching and learning is necessary, do not meet. You may also alter the nature of the meetings you have.
15 Tips For Making Meetings Matter
Regardless of the nature of your meeting, here are five useful guidelines to follow that will help you hold productive meetings that will advance your shared goals.
- Select the Appropriate Area: Whether it’s a classroom, a conference room, the library, or the cafeteria, we must work within the confines of the available space. Being conscious of our choices—adult-size seats, please!—can go a long way toward ensuring that the staff is comfortable during a meeting. The conference area should, of course, be clean and easily accessible to all attendees. Furthermore, arrange the furniture in such a way that everyone can see everyone else without twisting around in their chairs. Finally, try giving food and beverages, even if they are simply modest snacks—eating together fosters goodwill and camaraderie.
- Be Specific About Your Goals: Determine what you want to accomplish in the meeting—don’t just hold a meeting because you always have one on Thursday afternoons. What exactly do you need to accomplish? How do you solve a problem? Make a choice? Is it possible to talk about a new idea? What are your pedagogical triumphs and challenges? Determine your meeting’s purpose and arrange accordingly. When you have a clear aim in mind, you may more readily select the appropriate method, protocol, or structure for the meeting. Once you’ve determined what you want to accomplish, create an agenda that is solely focused on that goal.
- Always Keep A Schedule: An agenda with clearly defined tasks and times is essential for keeping the meeting on track and ensuring that attendees understand the goal and focus of the time. A meeting should also always begin and end on time! You will begin to think and act differently as you plan the meeting if you populate the agenda with questions rather than issues. You’ll become more strategic, questioning the meaning of a topic and determining your ultimate goal – the underlying reason for bringing the group together.
- Collaborate to Identify Questions That Truly Matter: There is no magic amount of questions that should be addressed in a meeting. What matters is that you ask the appropriate questions. To find them, the meeting’s facilitator should first develop potential questions from their viewpoint point. Then, when the agenda is being developed, attendees should be asked for their thoughts. This is significant for two reasons. For starters, because meetings are ultimately collective experiences, allowing for diverse perspectives is only natural. Second, when employees are encouraged to openly share their thoughts and ideas – and the leader genuinely listens to those ideas – they are more likely to feel committed to the team and the organisation. As a result, meeting attendees are more engaged.
- Privilege The Most Important Questions First: The implication is clear: put your most compelling questions at the start of the meeting. This will not only assure coverage of key issues; it is also a way of quickly grabbing attendee attention and conveying the value of the meeting. And while it is fine to start a meeting with 5 minutes or so of news and notes, after that concludes, go all in addressing the most challenging, important, and vexing questions. If the questions are all of equal importance, consider privileging questions provided by attendees themselves. By doing so, you are living into a strong set of inclusion and shared-ownership values.
- Begin With Objectives: Begin the meeting by deciding on the meeting’s outcome(s) with the rest of the attendees. If there is a large group, you can prepare the outcomes ahead of time and receive team approval. Check the outcomes at the end to ensure they are tangible.
- Assign Roles: Adopt a defined set of responsibilities, such as a facilitator, one or more note-takers, a timekeeper, and someone in charge of assigning action items. Other responsibilities are vital, but without these in place, the meeting will be ineffective. Rotating jobs is one approach to keep employees growing in the organisation.
- Create Fair and Productive Processes: Just as effective schools are founded on dependable systems and structures, a great meeting should employ procedures and processes that ensure all opinions are heard, no single voice dominates, and debate remains focused and productive. Make it clear what you expect from one another, and then use those expectations to reflect on and improve your communication and collaboration abilities.
- Review Action Items: Allow at least 5 minutes at the conclusion of the meeting to go over the action items. When you do that, you will discover that something important is constantly left out. If you do not leave the meeting with action items in place, why did you convene in the first place? Unless you assign and everyone is clear on the next actions, you’ve just wasted time talking to each other.
- Be Present: Regardless of whether your own or your company’s commitments are pressing, make a commitment to be on time, because your time with your colleagues is irreplaceable. Consider who has the most influence and who is excluded, and utilise approaches that include equality and inclusivity.
- Be With The People You’re With. Leave your phone in your office, and encourage your faculty to do the same. We know that just putting phones away doesn’t keep students from getting distracted, and you can apply that idea to your time with your colleagues. You’ll all need your collective mental energy if you’re going to be fully present and responsive. Try to set aside your hoped-for outcomes and pay attention to what’s being said. You all might be surprised by what you notice.
- The Parking Lot: This is a place to capture comments, topics, or questions that are not related to the agenda. It keeps the focus on the immediate discussion while deferring (i.e., “parking”) other topics for later. It means we are saving the questions for a later meeting or for resolution by a smaller group, or respond to them on your own via email or handout.
- Have Courage: The status quo has a powerful gravitational pull, and change—even well-intentioned and seemingly small-scale—calls for courage. As a leader, choosing to be intentional about how you use your meetings, to limit your time to only the important issues, and to insist that everyone engage respectfully and fully requires courage. Just remember that facilitating—rather than leading—requires a shift in the way we think about staff meetings. If done well, it raises the level of discourse, builds professional culture and community, and models the pedagogical philosophies we want to see in classrooms. How would your meetings be different if you made the shift?
- Action Items: Meetings that are truly actionable end with action items. These are action items, which are specific activities or actions that must be completed, and they are often what you would put on a to-do list or a calendar to keep track of what needs to be done. The action items must explain what it takes to attain a goal or complete a project; make it simple to track project progress; and, make up the stages that get a project completed.
JUST REMEMBER that . . . Converting all of that lost time into productive time that advances your goal is one of the keys to creating an organisational culture of involvement and ownership. A high-performance culture does not happen by chance. Protocols that recognise who individuals are and what they can give motivate people.
Ending The Meeting
How do we wrap up the meeting when everything is said and done? Here are five strategies to accomplish that:
- Always Finish On A High Tone: While there may have been some disagreement and discord, do your best to leave the meeting on a positive note. Having a pleasant conclusion will help the attendees’ morale, and not leave them dissatisfied with the meeting’s time investment.
- Wind Down Before The Time Of The Meeting’s Scheduled Conclusion: Accurate time management is essential to successful meeting facilitation. To allow for some final remarks, debate final points a few minutes before the end of the session. Nothing is more damaging to a meeting than ending late.
- Say It Again, But In More Detail: Both opening and closing remarks should contain information about the aim of the meeting. The article weaves together all the topics discussed and brings back to memory the goal that was achieved at the meeting.
- Connect with the Participants One Last Time to bring the session to a close. Meeting facilitators should conclude meetings by briefly commending the participants who offered the most helpful suggestions. Take a moment to thank everyone after a meeting or work session, and then sign off the computer or leave the room last. A brief few moments of personal attention is typically met with a good response from most people.
- Schedule Appointments For Check-Ups: To wrap up the meeting, take some time to set up the next step. In addition to measurement meetings and email follow-ups, make sure that each participant knows when to expect the next contact.
A valuable skill for meeting facilitation is knowing how to close a meeting in a positive way. The five tricks will make meetings feel more valuable to meeting participants, as well as make them more aware of the meting’s milestones and progress.
Let me hope that our Department meetings are going to be done with the Six Ps of Planning: – Prior Planning & Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
Good luck in all your endeavours.