Effective Meeting Management Can Be Taught

Leading a meeting effectively is a skill that can be taught — and once professionals internalize the related lessons, the company’s overall productivity may rise.

A team of employees discusses ideas at a meeting.

What does it take to lead more effective meetings?

Think about where your company gets things done, from planning for the future to iterating on valuable ideas. These kinds of actions take place at meetings, sometimes within a single department and at other times bringing in experts from throughout the organization. If the gatherings stay on track, with a specific agenda and a unifying theme, every meeting is a chance to make progress. When leadership is lacking, on the other hand, employees may walk away from a session unhappy about how much time they’ve just wasted.

The ability to keep a meeting on topic is not an innate ability or something a person is born with. Rather, this is a specific kind of communication skill and as such it can be imparted through effective training. Due to the fact that meetings are the crucible for important and impactful business decisions, helping with this one particular element of team member skills can help the whole business get on track and stay there.

What Makes a Great Meeting?

To get accustomed to the idea that meeting management is a skill that can be taught, it helps to consider just how much planning and execution goes into keeping a session running smoothly. Rather than just showing up and winging it, the best group leaders are those who can get others to pay attention and follow along with an agenda, taking a minimum amount of time by making every minute count.

Contributing to Inc. magazine, business advisor and author David Finkel laid out what a good meeting looks like. For example, every single gathering within or across teams should have a formalized plan. Overall organizational leaders should ensure it is an accepted part of the company culture to set up agendas and have a dedicated point person for each meeting to keep all participants on time and on task.

The person tasked with being the group leader should guide the whole process, from getting the group together in a timely manner to checking off every point on the agenda and sending everyone back to their normal tasks before they start to get distracted. Rather than hoping someone else will take responsibility for leading the group or assuming the meeting will carry itself along on its own momentum, an effective leader is someone who makes it a personal point to get everything done.

Finkel added that any good, productive session concludes with a recap and a statement of responsibilities. There should not be any ambiguity over what the group agreed to, what people should do next or what the timelines are for upcoming projects. The person who took point during the meeting should be proactive about contacting the other participants after the fact to make sure their next steps are still on track, as established during the session.

Businesspeople discuss ideas at a meeting.Every meeting should have a designated leader.

How Should Leaders Handle Virtual and Remote Meetings?

The increasing use of communications technology at companies of all kinds has changed the calculus around meeting management. Now, many gatherings are held digitally, or with at least a few participants joining via audio or video link, and this new normal has changed the best practices of meeting management. Effective and up-to-date training on leadership should include some specifics about remote meeting participation, to ensure this common feature doesn’t undercut effectiveness.

Fast Company pointed out one of the most common risks associated with virtual meetings is participants who aren’t able to appear in person may be tempted to multitask and work on other things during the session, especially if there is only audio conferencing with no video. Bringing these employees back into the fold via interactive features such as a shared document to work with, or simply enabling a video feed to make them feel more engaged with the group can counteract the tendency toward distraction.

Sometimes, the best way to maximize the value of a virtual meeting is to focus on the same practices that make an in-person gathering go well. For instance, Fast Company emphasized the importance of a wrap-up at the end of each conference call or digital session to recap the best ideas, or even to positively call out the person who contributed the most value.

What Types of Training Are Available?

When you train key employees or whole teams in the best practices of meeting leadership, you can select from more general or specific course types. Some courses isolate specific facets of management, such as keeping remote participants on task, while others deal with more general soft skills and communication abilities.

Whichever approach you take to training your employees, there can be real benefits and value for your company. Once meetings start proceeding more effectively, with points being carefully noted instead of overlooked, there will be less need for extended or repetitive discussions. Issues can be settled quickly and succinctly, and everyone can stay on task, guided by dedicated and well-prepared leaders at each session.

A few new courses from MasteryTCN on effective meetings include:

Effective Meetings: Understand The Value Of People’s Time
Effective Meetings: Defining The Right Agenda
Effective Meetings: Assigning Roles And Responsibilities

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How Emotional Intelligence Training Helps Employees Thrive Throughout Your Organization

Emotional intelligence isn’t as vague a concept as its name implies, and it can and should be taught through workplace training.

Employees have a meeting.

Emotional intelligence may have direct benefits to overall company success.

When considering which subjects to feature in employee education and training programs, emotional intelligence may not be high on your priority list. After all, the term “emotional intelligence” is vague. Furthermore, the communication abilities that are considered part of emotional intelligence are sometimes assumed to be innate characteristics. Either people have the naturally ability to deal with others or they don’t, or so the thinking goes.

With that said, overlooking emotional intelligence training may be a critical mistake. The soft skills associated with communication, interaction and teamwork can indeed be taught as part of a training program, and employees who have had these lessons may use what they’ve learned to excel in their roles. Continue reading

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What Does an Ideal Harassment Prevention Policy Look Like?

What does it take to create a comprehensive and helpful workplace harassment prevention policy?

A female employee is harassed by a colleague.

How should companies develop harassment prevention approaches that work?

No matter where your organization is located, you must put frameworks in place to prevent sexual harassment and any other kind of inappropriate workplace behavior. The legal requirements governing and guiding these programs will differ from one state to another — for example, New York, California, Maine, Delaware and Connecticut have all passed specific laws shaping company harassment policies — but they are necessary everywhere.

When you treat an anti-harassment initiative as an afterthought, hassle or distraction, you are limiting its ability to help your employees and company as a whole. You can and should invest in top-quality materials, as well as a deliberate and considered strategy. Rather than a simple legal requirement, anti-harassment efforts can be a critical part of overall workplace culture. Continue reading

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What Types of Training Materials Inspire Creativity and Innovation?

How important is it for employees to have creative and innovative thinking abilities, and how can companies use training to encourage these competencies?

A team of young employees brainstorming.

Creativity can boost a company’s overall effectiveness.

For managers focused on day-to-day productivity above all else, creativity, inspiration and innovation among employees may seem more “nice to have” than “need to have.” Recent years, however, have brought a change in thinking about what types of skills make workplaces functional and generate value. As creativity’s stock in the business world rises, you may be wondering how to encourage and sharpen innovative thinking among your employees. Fortunately, training material development has kept up with the times, and there are courses available to sharpen your team’s creative prowess. Continue reading

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Customer Service Skills Have Never Been More Important

Customer care has never been more integral to a maintaining company’s image, and the best practices of service can be imparted through training.

A service team taking customer calls.

Do companies today have what it takes to impress their customers?

Today’s business climate is heavily weighted in favor of companies that can deliver masterful customer service. Across industries, organizations of all kinds are reachable through a wide range of channels and at great distances thanks to the fully mainstream nature of online shopping. This easy access to companies means a dissatisfied customer can quickly and easily switch brands, turning one unsatisfactory interaction into a lost opportunity for repeat business.

Furthermore, the same online channels giving audiences access to a huge variety of companies have also allowed users to voice their displeasure to a global audience. One customer complaint can quickly become a public relations problem for a business, a greatly amplified version of negative word of mouth. Continue reading

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