IN THIS ISSUE
Tips for Effective CSA Meeting Management
Set the meeting well in advance to ensure attendance.
Communicate both the start and anticipated end time so busy participants can plan accordingly. If attendance is mandatory but allows delegation, communicate what level of attendee is acceptable. Require invitees to respond to ensure participation. Follow a meeting invitation with a phone call or face-to-face meeting to build rapport and assist in buy-in of the process.
Collect your thoughts before the meeting begins.
Know your audience and how they may respond in the meeting. Consider appropriate participant management tactics to deal with potentially difficult participants. Prepare an outline and leave enough time for additional questions or commentary. Avoid providing time estimates to the meeting participants for each topic as some participants may feel the meeting is out of control if the meeting is ahead or behind schedule.
Set the tone and keep the meeting focused.
Start the meeting on time with a review of the agenda. To keep on track, have a printed copy of the agenda and the meeting goals in sight. When a participant gets off track, tactfully pull the meeting back to the agenda by reminding them of the time restraints and telling them you would be glad to discuss the issue "off-line," or ask if the topic should be put on the next meeting's agenda, if applicable. Capture open issues or unanswered questions on a flipchart so the meeting participants feel that although you have recognized that their topic is not on the agenda, it is important and will be addressed later.
Conduct the meeting with respect for all.
Introduce yourself as a facilitator and the meeting participants as the experts. Learn their names and use them. Ensure everyone understands the discussion topics; don't assume everyone knows what the topic of discussion involves. If the current meeting is part of a series, summarize previous meetings for new participants so they are not left out in the cold. Acknowledge all questions and comments, and don't interrupt. Be flexible; everything may not work exactly as planned. Most importantly, act interested. If you don't want to be there, they don't want to be there.
Be open-minded and delegate when necessary.
If the meeting is part of a series of periodic committee meetings, keep an open mind when new ideas are introduced. If the ideas seem unrealistic, ask the commenter to evaluate the issue further and report to the committee in the next meeting. Give everyone a chance for input. Respect others' opinions and expect the same from all participants. Delegate tasks when necessary; the meeting coordinator cannot be expected to do everything. Delegation makes others feel they are an important part of the team. Use everyone's knowledge to work towards a common goal.
Close the meeting in a timely manner.
Respect others' schedules and don't go over the scheduled ending time. Leave enough time for questions or comments. If you don't know the answer to a question, indicate you will have an answer by the next meeting or in a follow-up communication. Try to end the meeting with a personal note of appreciation. Additionally, some fun may also be appropriate — birthday salutations or snacks for the road — it helps to keep people coming back excited.