Do You Attend Meetings?

Dora Ann Hatch  |  3/16/2010 9:20:23 PM

Dora Ann Hatch is the Area Community Rural Development Agent in North Central Region.

This article was originally run in the Ruston Daily Leader on February 9, 2009

My calendar is filled with meetings. Some meetings are productive and I’m happy I attended them, but some meetings are memorable because they last, and last. The latter meetings drain my energy level and make me re-think why I’m involved.

Meetings should be productive and enjoyable. Facilitating a well-run meeting takes time and commitment. Today, I’m going to share some tips to improve your meetings.

First, begin with a plan. Create an agenda based on input from organizational members and then send the agenda to members before the meeting date.

Second, think ahead about the meeting site. Have you scheduled the room? Do you have a key? Do you know how to work all the controls and equipment? No one likes to come to a cold or hot environment only to find out equipment is not working or no one is present who understands how to work the equipment. Does this scenario remind you of a meeting you attended?

Third, chairing or facilitating a meeting takes skill. In formal meetings it’s important for a chair to know and understand how to execute parliamentary procedure. For informal meetings, facilitators can use “ground rules” to maintain decorum and ensure the rights of members.

Ground rules are written standards of conduct about how meeting participants conduct themselves during the course of a meeting. Generally the ground rules are proposed by a facilitator, but are not implemented until all members agree that they can abide by the stated ground rules.

Once the ground rules are adopted by the membership, the facilitator uses the ground rules to keep members’ comments and actions in order so that meetings can run smoothly and efficiently. Some suggested ground rules to consider for meeting management include:

  • Only one person speaks at a time.
  • The meeting begins on time and ends on time.
  • No review for people who arrive late.
  • If you miss a meeting, agree to support decisions made in your absence.
  • Every idea deserves to be heard.
  • Members need not agree on all issues, but support the majority vote.
  • Listen to an idea before making a decision.
  • Meeting facilitator/chair controls the meeting.

Once selected, post the ground rules on flip chart paper in front of the room so that everyone can see the rules. When necessary, the facilitator should refer back to the ground rules to control the meeting.

Finally, followup. When the meeting ends, make sure everyone receives information they will need to carry out their responsibilities before the next meeting.

For more information on meeting management, call your local LSU AgCenter to set up a training session in meeting management or parliamentary procedure or call Dora Ann Hatch, area community rural development agent with the LSU AgCenter, directly at (318) 927-9654 Ext. 229.

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