Key Points to Running a Successful Meeting

The purpose and format of the meeting should be established and communicated in advance
  • It is important to determine what you are trying to achieve.
  • There are a number of activities and process that may be included in the meeting and it is important that participants understand this in advance, e.g. informing, ideation, decision making etc.

The agenda should be developed and communicated before the meeting

  • Ensure that the relevant people have the opportunity to contribute to the agenda.
  • Agenda should indicate start and end times for the meeting so attendees can plan.
  • The agenda should be used by participants to prepare for the meeting so time isn’t wasted in the meeting with reading the agenda, collecting thoughts etc.

The chairperson should lead and manage the meeting using the agreed agenda

  • Timekeeping is a key responsibility as the time of the participants is their most valuable resource.
  • The chairperson should facilitate and manage the meeting without prejudice; in many situations they will remain impartial when the meeting is making decisions.
  • In consultation with the other attendees, the chairperson should decide at the beginning of the meeting whether there are sufficient attendees to have a fully functioning meeting, particularly when decisions are to be taken which will affect a broader body of individuals not represented at the meeting.
  • The chairperson should welcome participants to the meeting, ensure that any introductions required are made and thank participants for their contributions when closing the meeting.

A record of the meeting and agreed decisions and actions should be taken, agreed and circulated promptly

  • It is strongly recommended that the chairperson does not fulfil this role – it is extremely difficult to successfully manage a meeting while taking notes.
  • Many committees have a defined secretary with responsibility for this; if the individual responsible is unable to attend then the person who should fulfil this role at the meeting should be agreed at the beginning of the meeting.

One voice at a time, everyone with the right and responsibility to contribute

  • Only one person should be speaking at any time and the remaining participants should be listening.
  • All participants have the right to contribute and it should be ensured by the chairperson that they have the opportunity to do so.
  • All participants have a responsibility to participate fully in the meeting and where they have a contribution to make, they should not withhold this from the meeting.

The decision making process should follow an agreed approach and the outcomes recorded

  • A typical process involves a participant proposing a motion with clear wording, a seconder who supports it with a vote on the motion with the numbers of those agreeing, disagreeing or abstaining being recorded.

The record of the meeting should be agreed and circulated promptly

  • Records may take various forms from a short list of actions to formal minutes.
  • Irrespective of the format, the individual(s) responsible for the actions and their timescale need to be agreed and communicated.
  • In all cases, the record should be produced promptly, circulated for comment/agreement and then shared with intended recipients.  This should include the participants as a minimum but is also likely to include others who couldn’t attend.
  • A file record of the meeting should be retained so that it can be accessed in the future when required.

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