How to Plan a Good Meeting: Part I

Excerpt from Speak and Lead Series by Pauline Duncan-Thrasher

 What are key differences between a poor meeting and a good meeting?

A poor meeting lacks purpose, is clearly disorganized, wastes time and manages to aggravate the obnoxious while infuriating the calm: An ineffective chairperson mumbles or shouts, plays favourites, is easily sidetracked, unable to deal with controversy, and lacks knowledge of parliamentary procedure. Sadly we’ve all had to sit through too many poorly run, time wasting meetings.

A good meeting is purposeful, well-organized, relevant and timely: The effective chairperson speaks clearly and calmly, remains objective, focused and courteous despite controversy. He or she knows parliamentary procedure and accepts responsibility for establishing and maintaining an atmosphere that accommodates spirited debate, encourages mutual respect and insists upon fair voting procedures.

Before the meeting

  • Establish an open, confident mindset
  • Acknowledge your experience or lack of it.
  • Meet with your co planners to set expectations for success
  • Determine the purpose of the meeting
  • Prepare for possible challenges.

Leading any group requires both openness to new ideas and confidence to forge ahead despite possible interruptions or challenges. Few people know it all and those who act like know-it-alls might as well pin on a target for the bullies in any group. If you’re not used to chairing a meeting ask for help from leaders who’ve gone through the learning process. Better to seek help before the problem arises than stand there with egg on your face in front of your group.

People love helping as long as they know you want to improve. I owe lasting thanks to the late George Keenan (Distinguished Toastmaster and remarkable parliamentarian) who agreed to offer me tips while we played the “what if” game the night before I was to chair my first Business Meeting as District Governor. A challenge did come from the floor and thankfully I was able to deal with it and move the meeting forward.

Do not hesitate to look and sound like a leader. Speaking too softly or acting shy will not help you to accomplish your goals in a meeting. Link the purpose of your meeting with expectations of success with your co- planners well in advance of the meeting. Maintain a positive vision while preparing to deal with possible challenges so you will appear cool and composed.

Read Part II of this article series HERE

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