Conducting Effective Meetings

Meetings are a big part of our business life and on some days, we spend quite a lot of time in meetings with other people. One way of saving time in your business day is to have effective meetings.

Meetings are similar to small plays. As in a play, there are three phases to a meeting: before the meeting, the meeting itself, and after the meeting.

Before the meeting

When the director prepares for a play, he or she uses the script to see what type of play it is, which actors are required and what the set should look like. The script also specifies how long the play is and how the play will end. The director also decides how long it will take the actors to practise the lines of the play and how long the set will take to build, before finalising the date of the first performance. Similar to the director of a play, the meeting organiser needs to prepare for the meeting by asking the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the meeting? Is it to communicate something; are there specific decisions required to be made or is input or commitment on a design or an implementation plan required?

  • Which discussion points should be on the agenda, and in which order should they be to reach the desired outcome of the meeting?

  • Who should attend? What is their contribution to the meeting?

  • What needs to sent out before the meeting to prepare the meeting attendees? What is the notice that the attendees will require to attend the meeting?

  • What is the best time for the meeting and how much time is needed?

  • Where should the meeting be held? Make sure that the attendees will be comfortable and that the meeting will not be disrupted by noise or interruptions.

During the meeting

The evening of the performance requires all the preparations to be complete. The stage is set, and all the actors know their lines and cues. During the performance they are prompted by certain cues, making sure they follow the script and use the correct props. Similar to the actual performance of a play, the meeting chairperson can run the meeting in the following way:

  • Set the stage by giving background and explaining the purpose of the meeting.

  • Explain how the meeting will be run and reconfirm the intended outcome of the meeting.

  • When going through the agenda points, give cues to the meeting attendees, ensuring active participation at the right time.

  • Close the meeting by summarising major discussion points, actions or decisions taken during the meeting.

  • Explaining the steps that will follow after the meeting.

After the meeting

After the play, the audience usually discusses how they experienced the play, or a play critic might evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly of the play.The meeting organiser can do the following after the meeting:

  • Send out the formal record of the meeting, listing the major discussion points, actions or decisions taken during the meeting.

  • Do honest self-assessment on what worked well in the meeting and what can be improved in future meetings

  • As it is with plays, no meeting is the same. The above guidelines can help you to reflect on how you prepare, run and wrap up your meetings to ensure that they meet the intended outcome, saving you time in the long run.

Should you want to discuss any of these reflections, contact Monene at monene@engrow.co.za.


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Your Personal Brand

Volvo for Safety, Nike for Action and Coke for Adding fun to Life.

These are how famous brands are generally described, based on people’s perceptions of what these brands represent. Have you given thought to your personal brand? How would someone describe you? What do you represent?

While your thoughts start working on this question, think of someone you know well professionally or personally. Which words would you use to describe them? Kind, fair, loving, dependable, negative, assertive? This is your brand perception of them – based on your perception of who they are, their values and your interactions with them.

Branding gurus describe the brand of a company as the essence (or promise) of what the company can deliver, or what you can expect when dealing with the company. How do you think people will describe your essence or promise? How would they describe their experiences with you?

You can define your personal brand by addressing the following questions:

Who am I? What are your core values and beliefs?

What do I do? How do these values and beliefs inform your behaviour?

What do I do differently? What makes you different from your peers? What are your unique skills or values? Is it something that is adding or destroying value for you?

Which company/environment suits me best? Think of previous companies where you have worked. Where have you had successes? Where have things not worked so well?

Once you have reflected on these questions, it can be useful to ask for feedback from your colleagues and friends. Asking them the same questions as the ones above, you will gain good insight in how people perceive you. Defining your personal brand helps you to understand what your unique offering is. This knowledge will empower you to make good career and business decisions.


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What is the Source of Your Power?

Some leaders drag a team of horses behind them. The horses are all pulling at their bits and struggling in different directions. Other leaders are running with their horses. The horses don’t have bits in their mouths, and they are all moving in the same direction. The difference lies in the leader’s source of power.

Determining the source of your power can help you to develop trust in your working relationships. There are two types of power in leadership, namely positional power and personal power.

Positional power can be compared to leading the horse to the water to drink. You can lead the horse to the water, but you cannot force it to drink. If you are a leader in an organisation, the organisation gives you power. The amount of your power is determined by the organisation’s rules, your level of authority and your responsibilities.

Personal power means influencing the horse to walk to the water for a drink. The people you interact with are the source of your personal power. Your personal power is based on your behaviour and who you are; it is therefore earned. As the trust in your relationships with people grows, your personal power increases.

Here are a few tips that could help you to earn personal power:

  • Clearly explain your expectations of the other person.

  • Help the other person to explore different ways to meet your expectations. Listen clearly to determine challenges or obstacles; suggest alternatives to work around these challenges.

  • Reward people when they meet your expectations.

  • Do what you promise to do.

  • Take people on the journey with you. If your expectations change, make sure you communicate this clearly.

The above tips can be applied in any leadership position: at work, in your community or in your family.

Question to reflect on: What are the challenges you face in using your personal power?

In next month’s article, I will explore how you can define your personal brand.


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