Ineffective meetings? The first step is to know you need help

MSU Extension can offer assistance to groups interested in improving meeting effectiveness. But there are effective meeting basics everyone should follow.

A common mistake of ineffective groups is that, surprise, they often don’t recognize that they are ineffective. They will wait for an identified leader to rescue them from themselves. Don’t wait until someone says, “This group just seems to be spinning its wheels – we never get anything important done.” Instead, do something about it.

Creativity and innovation can emerge from anywhere within an organization or group. Indeed, a function of strong leadership is to encourage group members to create and innovate from within and to feel welcome to “step into the breach” where needed. Simply put, we should inspire all members to make suggestions for improvement and volunteer to take action – wherever they see a need.

There are several steps to holding an effective meeting. Texas A&M Agrilife Extension offers Effective Meetings: An Important Element of Extension Management with tips for anyone who wants to ensure meetings have tangible outcomes.

The effective meeting basics are below with some added explanation. Please read Effective Meetings: An Important Element of Extension Management, which goes into much greater detail.

Before the Meeting

  • Plan the Meeting – develop the detailed agenda.
  • Make Sure You Need a Meeting – what actions will be taken, what decisions need to be made? Is the meeting only to share information? If so, you may choose to send out written reports, and postpone meeting until decisions are needed.
  • Ensure Appropriate Participation at the Meeting – do members notify you if they are not attending? It helps to know if a quorum will be present. If not, then the meeting should be postponed or cancelled.
  • Distribute and Review Pre-work Prior to the Meeting – make sure members receive their agenda packet and supporting documents in time to thoroughly review and consider any questions.

During the Meeting to Ensure Effective Meetings

  • Effective Meeting Facilitation
  • Use the Pre-work in the Meeting                               
  • Involve Each Participant in Actions

Create Effective Meeting Follow-up Plan

  1. The specific action item,
  2. The name of the person who committed to the task.
  3. The due date of the action item,
  4. An agreement about what the completed action item looks like.

After the Meeting to Ensure Effective Meetings

  • Publish Meeting Minutes
  • Effective Meeting Follow-up
  • Accountability for Follow-up during the Next Meeting

Michigan State University Extension offers specific training to help your board/committee be more effective. Training is available in board development meeting management and facilitation, strategic visioning and planning, in addition to general leadership skills educational programs. To contact an expert in your area, visit MSU Extension’s “Find An Expert” page and type in “facilitation” or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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