5 Cardinal Rules To An Effective Meeting

“We’ll have a very short meeting guys”

How many of us have heard that but end up having a meeting longer than an hour or worst a meeting that stretches for hours.

I’ve sat in and have chaired meetings previously and as far as I can remember, I always target to end my meetings within a certain time – usually within an hour unless there is something extraordinary not tabled for in the agenda which needs to be urgently discussed.

But, I have also sat in meetings whereby it has stretched for as long as FOUR hours!!!

Now, I wouldn’t call that a meeting actually because that sounds a lot more of  a hangout session.

So, let’s first check on what a meeting means:

noun

1. the act of coming together: a chance meeting in the park.
2. an assembly or conference of persons for a specific purpose:a ten o’clock business meeting.
3. the body of persons present at an assembly or conference:to read a report to the meeting.
4. a hostile encounter; duel.
5. an assembly for religious worship, especially of Quakers.

Most times or rather, the meaning that I’m referring to in this post would be more specific of “The act of a body of persons coming together to an assembly for a specific purpose with a chance for a hostile encounter”

A specific purpose is what it is and what people should be driven towards when attending meetings.

That would mean to say that before attending any meetings, members of individual sub-committees should have done their due diligence first to ensure that the meeting could be expedited swiftly.

One would expect experienced adults who probably have sat in numerous meetings to be able to perform this due diligence but not all adults are actually responsible adults. I’ve sat in a meeting where I’ve seen the entire committee run through issues which has been covered in previous meetings and then a few members who have failed to perform due diligence end up holding up the rest of the members.

Frustrating you must think and indeed it is very very frustrating albeit hilarious as well.

But aside from the responsibility of the committee members to perform due diligence, the person chairing the meeting also needs to be someone who’s able to ensure that topics of discussion are focused on the meetings’ agenda only. More often than not in a meeting, individuals tend to stray away from the topic of discussion, preferring to digress about the latest news or shopping or something else other than on the agenda itself. It then falls into the responsibility and leadership of the presiding chairperson to ensure that the members stick to the agenda to ensure effectiveness.

Meeting is a very simple word and just like the word meeting, the word RESPONSIBLE is just as simple but just as difficult to uphold. So, here are a few cardinal rules that should be upheld.

CARDINAL RULE 1

One of the pet peeves I have when attending meetings is how some members enjoy being habitually late. Being late is a disease in my opinion because one individual could say, I’m going to be 15 minutes late and when that person arrives. Another might still be on the way or worst, refuse to even inform of their whereabouts or how much longer they’d take before they arrive. It holds up the entire time for the meeting.

“Someone has appointments to stick to, not everyone is as irresponsible as you are”

CARDINAL RULE 2

If you are the presiding chairperson, please disseminate the agenda to all your members at least a week before the meeting. This will allow your members ample time to prepare the necessary documentation required for updating at the meeting.

“People have responsibilities and work, a week is a good enough lead time to get members moving to do some updating on their work”

CARDINAL RULE 3

If you are a fellow committee member attending the meeting, ensure that you perform due diligence prior to the meeting. Have all your documentation prepared and ready for updating to the committee.

“You are in the committee, you have a responsibility to uphold to the committee”

CARDINAL RULE 4

The women seem to have a problem with this – keeping focused on the agenda but I’ve seen many men with issues to do the same. STAY FOCUSED ON THE AGENDA.

“Everyone has responsibilities/appointments/activities to attend to. Not everyone wants to talk about something other than what’s on the agenda”

CARDINAL RULE 5

If you don’t have anything to contribute to the topic on the agenda. SHUT UP. Taking nitpicks at people you don’t like doesn’t help for the cause.

“Don’t make yourself sound stupid or ridiculous by opening your mouth. Silence is golden”

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