Public Speaking Can Be Fun

Free Public speaking skills tips, techniques, and advice by presentation skills expert Jacki Rose, Top Performance. Follow me on Twitter:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Will Your Next Meeting Be a Waste of Time?

10 Steps to a Productive Meeting

Effective public speaking skills are necessary when presenting at or facilitating a meeting.

Prior to the meeting…

1 – Why
Why are you having the meeting?
Determine the purpose of your meeting and communicate that to everyone attending.

2 – What
What are you going to cover? Create a list of items to be discussed then send an email out to everyone attending the meeting asking them if there is anything else they feel needs to be discussed.

3 – Agenda
Create an agenda with all items to be discussed, times allotted for each item, schedule of times, and the person’s name in charge of reporting on that item.
For example (i.e. 8:00 -8:10 (10 min) Budget – Kenny

4 – Prepare
Send the completed agenda to everyone and ask them to come prepared with their agenda item and/or input.

5 – Get Psyched
Send a reminder out the day before the meeting focusing on the positive and getting them a little excited about attending. For example, “Just a reminder that our meeting is scheduled for tomorrow from 8 am to 9 am. We have some great things to discuss that will be beneficial to you all.” If you can get your meeting attendees a little excited about the meeting, they will come with a more positive attitude and higher energy which will result in a more productive meeting.

At the meeting…

6 – Begin Promptly
Start on time out of respect for everyone who showed up on time and have an engaging opening remark to get them in the right frame of mind and focused on the meeting agenda. (For example, “Before we begin I just have to tell you what happened to me this morning on the way to work….”) A humorous personal story would be great, but make it short, and try to tie it into the purpose of the meeting as an analogy. For example, “It scared the heck out of me, sort of like this meeting today. I’m trying something new, and whenever you try something new it can be scary. But it can also be effective, which is my goal for this meeting.”
Announce up front how the meeting will go, that you will be sticking to the agenda

7 – Set the Tone
Let everyone know up front how the meeting will go and let them know the benefit to them. For example: “In order to get everything done that we need to get done today and to assure everyone has a opportunity to discuss what they need to discuss, and of course to make sure the meeting doesn’t go longer than it needs to, we will be following this agenda and will be sticking to the items and the times stated.

“We will be staying on track only discussing that item of which we are on. Each person will speak one at a time. If you disagree with someone, say that you have a different opinion rather than accusing others of being wrong. Everyone’s opinion matters.

Ask up front, “is there anything else we need to discuss today that is not on the agenda? Have an item on your agenda towards the end that says “other business” 8:25 – 8:35 am (10 min).

8 – Take Charge
Stay in control of the meeting. If the meeting gets side tracked bring everyone back in a positive way, “Wow. Looks like we could have a whole other meeting on this subject, let’s get back to the discussion on hand so we can all get out of here on time.”

9 – Be Funny
Use humor whenever appropriate. It keeps the meeting lively, creates a safer environment for people to participate in discussion. And be sure to encourage participation. You never know what wonderful knowledge, experience, and ideas could come out of someone, especially someone who doesn’t speak up that often. And… who knows…. they just may look forward to the next meeting!

10 – The Amazing May Happen
End on time or early. Wouldn’t it be great to end early? Stick to your agenda, and you just might!

If you are conducting the meeting, but you do not think you are good at facilitating and getting people to stay on track, then change the way you think about yourself. This is a great opportunity for you to develop and practice your leadership and facilitation skills. It is your responsibility to keep everyone on track. They are all relying on you. Don’t let them down. Be firm, be strong, and be nice about it. You will gain the respect that you deserve and you will have a productive meeting. You can do it!

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