In this lesson you will learn about meetings and how they are structured.
People attend meetings for a wide variety of reasons, including work, personal interests and leisure activities. Most people will have to participate in meetings at some point in their lives, be it within an organization, a sports group, a Parent Teachers Association, Religious group or one of a myriad of other committees.
This lesson will examine how meetings are structured in a formal situation. It explores how good preparation and an effective chairperson may contribute to the success of a meeting, giving a sense of direction or purpose. Some meetings leave the participants feeling they have wasted their time as little has been achieved and this can be due to many reasons. This lesson will also examine the reasons why meetings may be less successful and steers you towards getting the most out of meetings.
A meeting is the coming together of three or more people who share common aims and objectives, and who through the use of verbal and written communication contribute to the objectives being achieved.
Meetings are an important organizational tool as they can be used to:
While meetings may differ in size, content and approach, effective meetings all have the following three elements in common:
A meeting can be divided into the following three main components:
There are many different types of meetings; here we focus on those used to:
These are the most straightforward meetings where one member, usually the chairperson, has factual information or a decision which affects all those present, which he/she wishes to communicate. Such meetings tend to be formal as their aims are to give the members a real understanding and to discuss any implications or how to put such information to best use.
These are meetings used to discuss a specific policy or innovation and can be used to get participants' views of such a policy or idea.
An example could be:
These meetings are dependent upon the chairperson describing the problem as clearly as possible. Members should be selected according to their experience, expertise or interest and then given as much information as possible to enable them to generate ideas, offer advice and reach conclusions.
These types of meetings tend to follow an established method of procedure:
Many organizations hold regular meetings to enable members to report and discuss progress and work in hand, to deliberate current and future planning. Such meetings can contain elements of each of the four above examples.
Of prime importance for the success of any meeting is the attitude and leadership of the chairperson.
In a meeting, the chairperson is the leader and, as such, has to perform the same function as the leader of any working group.
For a meeting to be effective, the chairperson has to:
All meetings must have a purpose or aim and the chairperson must ask questions, questions as:
The chairperson should always consider whether a meeting is necessary or if some other means of communication is more appropriate, for example memos or emails targeted to individuals inviting comment. Unnecessary meetings may waste time, lead to frustration and negativity and may lower motivation to participate in future meetings.
This will very much depend on the type of meeting to be held. There should be some rationale behind every meeting, no matter how low-level or informal, and this will largely dictate the content and indicate how planning should proceed.
This is often decided by the nature of the meeting itself. In a small organization, a meeting could well include all members of staff, whereas a working party or committee meeting will already have its members pre-determined. In a large organization or department, staff attending might well be representing others. It is important that the full implications of such representation are realized by the individuals concerned as they are not merely speaking for themselves. Meetings outside the workplace may include members of the board of directors or other interested parties.
If maximum contribution is to be forthcoming from all participants, the purpose of the meeting should be recognized by all. The most tangible expression of this is the agenda which should be circulated beforehand to all those invited to the meeting.
The agenda should:
The Agenda: This is the outline plan for the meeting. In most formal meetings it is drawn up by the secretary in consultation with the chairperson. The secretary must circulate the agenda well in advance of the meeting, including any accompanying papers. The secretary also requests items for inclusions in the agenda.
Regular meetings often start with the minutes from the last meeting followed by 'matters arising' which forms a link with what has happened in the previous meeting. Most meetings conclude with 'any other business' (AOB) which gives everyone the opportunity for any genuine last minute items to be raised; though more formal meetings may have AOB items listed on the agenda.
An example of an agenda might be:
There can, of course, be more items on the agenda.
This was a brief overview of how meetings work and the importance of why they are held. Xcite™ hopes you feel excited about this information that you learnt.
The next lesson will talk more about meetings and how they are conducted.
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