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Tips on Conducting More Effective and Efficient Meetings

By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA on October 06, 2021 hst Print

Not everyone loves meetings and some may even resent the time spent sitting in one. They are, however, an essential, practical form of communication in many organizations, and this would include schools or athletic departments.

In these face-to-face gatherings, pertinent updates are presented, directions are explained, and participants can be reminded of responsibilities and procedures that need to be followed. Meetings can be a successful medium, and they have been commonly used forever.

Since everyone is busy and time is a valuable commodity, it is important to conduct efficient and well-organized meetings. When this goal is accomplished, you may find that there is less resistance to the concept and more may actually be accomplished.

The following suggestions should help with the quest to conduct more effective and efficient meetings.

  • Only hold a meeting when you have a good, vital reason for getting together. Always consider if a simple email message or a brief memo can provide the necessary information and would better serve the purpose.
  • Schedule meetings at a time which is convenient for most of the participants. Being considerate of those who are involved is a wise move by the moderator or leader of the session. This act of accommodating and understanding goes a long way toward creating a more receptive atmosphere.
  • Start the session on time and do not wait for stragglers. If you do delay the start and there is no accountability for offenders, it will continue and get worse in the future. To address late arriving individuals, lock the door to the room and start. This step will necessitate anyone who is late to have to knock to be admitted. Of course, you should note and document anyone who is late, and take appropriate remedial steps.
  • Always use a well-organized agenda to provide a roadmap for the meeting. While participants can and should be able to ask questions pertaining to any item, this document helps to keep focus on what has to be accomplished and to limit extraneous, unessential conversations.
  • Use a PowerPoint whenever possible. This tool is actually a visual outline and it helps to maintain the attention of the participants. Also, appropriate charts, graphs and photos greatly enhance the presentation and help to maintain the focus of those in the meeting.
  • Send the PowerPoint presentation via an email attachment to anyone who legitimately had to miss the meeting. While the real tone and impact of the presentation rests with the presenter and his or her ability to interject supportive material and to maintain an interesting delivery, the copy should at least provide the basic material of what was covered.
  • Provide discussion questions or topics several days before the meeting whenever possible if you are looking for input and suggestions. In this manner, you will get better, more in-depth, well-thought-out answers and comments because the attendees will have had a chance to think through the problem, development or imminent change.
  • Keep the pace of the meeting moving forward by sticking to the agenda. If the session is scheduled for an hour, it is vital to stay within these parameters. Of course, allow for and answer legitimate questions. But it is also imperative to politely control those individuals who constantly have a need to simply say something even if it has little or nothing to add to the discussion.
  • Arrange any handouts that accompany the PowerPoint or agenda so that they can be quickly and easily distributed at the appropriate times during the meeting. If you provide all the materials at the beginning of a session, the participants may leaf through them ahead of time and not pay attention to the item at hand. If this occurs, the initial explanation may be missed and have to be repeated, which is not an efficient method of presentation.
  • Always evaluate how the meeting went and how it was received. This step is like many others in athletic administration and the objective is to constantly try to improve. To do this, ask yourself what went well and what needs tweaking the next time.

Good effective, efficient meetings don’t happen by accident. They take thought, effort and planning, and the end result might be that a concise, successful session will entice the participants to approach the next one with less resistance and a more positive attitude.