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John A. Kline, PhD

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October 2017

Leading Meetings Effectively - Part V

To conclude our discussion of how lead meetings effectively, here are six things to consider.
1. Don’t Stifle Discussion by answering your own questions, using rapid-fire questions that fail to allow for thought, or by failing to be open to responses from others that may not align with what you the leader think or believe. 

2. Demonstrate tact in drawing people out.  Never embarrass a person by saying something such as, “Theresa, what do you think?” If Theresa wasn’t listening, calling her out embarrasses her and likely turns much of the group against the leader, because they are thinking, “The leader doesn’t care about Theresa’s feelings, and he or she probably doesn’t care about mine either.”  Instead say something like. “Theresa, you have been successful in building mutual trust in groups you have led; could you please tell us how you have built that mutual trust between leader and followers?”  Notice how the group leader called Theresa’s name to get her attention and then clearly stated the topic (twice) and built her credibility before asking for her input.

3. Don’t over-control by talking too much.  An analysis of the lines of communication (sociogram) can provide valuable feedback to you.  Have a group member plot the lines of communication on a piece of paper.  If the lines of communication usually flow back and forth between you and the group members rather than among the participants, then you may be over-controlling.  On the other hand, if you under-control the guided discussion, you may never reach your objective or cover the main points.  Aimless discussion wastes time, loses the respect of group members, and has a negative effect on group motivation and success.

4. Intervene when necessary to keep the group on track.  Be alert if the discussion drifts, if some participants dominate, if factual errors or faulty reasoning appear, if hostility between or among members occurs, if crucial facts are not being considered, or if people are agreeing just to finish just to get the meeting “over with.”

5. Summarize as you go and when you finish. Say something such as, “So as I understand it, we all agree that . . . .  So let’s move on and . . . .”  Also give a final summary at the end of the meeting to make sure everyone is “on the same page.”

6. Analyze for yourself how the meeting went.  I have found that after getting input from one or two trusted colleagues—one who know they can be honest with you—is very helpful. I have been leading meetings for years, and I am still learning.

While the five columns on “Leading Meetings Effectively” have not covered all a leader needs to know about leading meetings, I have provided information that will help you.
John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama
jkline@troy.edu
 
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