Lead/chair a structured meeting

Meetings can sometimes be chaotic. There is little structure, the participants just mess around and extensive discussions take place about topics that are often not on the agenda. How do you ensure that a meeting is more structured?

The purpose of a meeting

As chairman, you first determine the purpose of the meeting. What do you want to achieve with the group of participants you are sitting with? A meeting without a purpose is actually hopeless in advance. You might as well just sit at the coffee table together. A clear goal focuses you more on the content of the meeting and helps you direct the participants.

The fixed roles during a meeting

When you sit together there are three roles that are of obvious importance. These roles can be task-oriented or people-oriented. Clearly appoint the people who will take on these three roles so that the meeting will be more structured. The three roles are:

  • chairman = task and people oriented
  • note-taker = task-oriented
  • participant = task and people oriented

Activities before a meeting starts

Before a meeting starts, there is preparatory work for all three roles mentioned. To get the most out of a meeting, it is important that everyone is well prepared.

Chairman

  • sets the agenda
  • sends out an invitation + agenda + documents
  • anticipates the behavior of the participants
  • arranges the meeting room

The note taker

  • provides a minutes template
  • checks which items are on the agenda

The participant

  • reads all documents carefully
  • anticipates the participants

Tasks during a meeting

What do the different roles do during a meeting? What is expected of them? To ensure that everyone remains in their role, we list below for each role what is normally expected during a meeting from the person performing such a role. These points can be used as a guideline if you do not yet have much experience with meetings.

Duties of the chairman

  • open the meeting
  • indicate the purpose of the meeting
  • monitor the established structure
  • monitor the atmosphere
  • keep an eye on speaking time
  • close the meeting

Duties of the note taker

  • record the place and date
  • record attendees and absences
  • write down goal
  • organize minutes based on agenda items
  • summarize the introduction
  • record all points of view with motivation
  • record decisions with motivation
  • record the date, time and place of the next meeting

Participant duties

  • discuss constructively
  • minimal deviation from the agenda items

Activities after a meeting ends

Once the chairman has closed the meeting, the activities are not over. All three roles still have some tasks to complete:

  • the chairman: review the report with the minute taker
  • the minute taker: write the report as quickly as possible
  • the participant: read minutes and fulfill action points

The structure of a well-run meeting

To achieve the predetermined goal of the meeting, you must go through four steps per agenda item. These steps provide the chairman with the tools to properly handle and conclude each agenda item. These four steps are:

Forming images and opinions

  • describe the current situation as best as possible
  • try to bring the desired situation to the table
  • consider all objections
  • state the consequences of the desired situation

Discuss

  • summarizes the agenda item
  • let everyone respond
  • criticism is welcome, discuss it
  • respond again, but now to the criticism

Making decisions

  • adhere to applicable rules
  • state all the pros and cons of the decision
  • make sure you reach consensus

Divide tasks, set actions

  • clearly agree on who will do what
  • agree on clear achievable deadlines
  • repeat all agreements again