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Running a meeting

Holding a meeting is one of the main ways to work together. Tips for holding fantastic meetings.

Top Tips

There are probably millions of people around the world sitting in meetings right now and not all of these meetings will be interesting or productive! But with a bit of planning your meetings can be fun, effective and get things done.

5 top tips for holding great meetings
The awful meeting – boring, badly run and indecisive – is often featured in TV comedies and films. You’ve almost certainly seen one! Think about any awful meetings you’ve seen or been in – it could even be a lesson in school that failed to inspire you.
Write your 5 top tips for turning an awful meeting into a great meeting. How would you make it interesting, well run and great at making decisions everyone agreed with?
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Now compare your top tips with our top tips. How similar or different are they?

  My Top Tips 5 Top Tip
1   A good chair
A good meeting has a chairperson or facilitator. The chair makes sure everyone speaks up, no-one dominates the discussion and that you stick to the agenda. The chair also needs to make sure that you are all happy with the agreements you make.
Chairing a meeting is a skill most people need to practice, so take it in turns and give it a go
2   A friendly atmosphere
Welcome newcomers and give everyone a chance to have a say. Don’t be afraid to disagree with each other. However, do work together and support group decisions, even if you personally disagree. Try to generate a creative atmosphere. Taking a break, putting on some music or bringing snacks can make all the difference if you have a lot to do.
3   Clear goals
The best meetings are when everyone is clear about what you’re trying to achieve. If things get stuck remind yourself of your goals.
4   A clear agenda
Your agenda is the plan of what you will discuss in the meeting. Share the agenda beforehand so everyone can see what there is to do in the time available. To make sure you fit everything in, allocate each agenda item a time limit. It’s the chairperson’s responsibility to make sure you stick to the timetable.
If there’s an item on the agenda that’s taking longer than you expected, agree to ‘park’ it and place it on the agenda for a longer discussion at the next meeting.
5   Action points
Make sure each meeting has a note-taker or ‘secretary’ who keeps a written record of the group’s decisions, what people agreed to do and the deadlines. Send round your notes (or ‘minutes’) after the meeting so everyone knows what they need to do and people who didn’t attend the meeting can stay informed.

Now agree 5 top tips for your meetings, write them on a large sheet of paper and pin them on the wall at every meeting as a reminder.

Recording your Meetings

Meetings are great opportunities to discuss ideas, make plans and report back. But you don’t actually do very much during meetings. Therefore, what you do in-between meetings is very important. For example, a meeting might ask you to do some research and present your findings at the next meeting. It’s important that you complete any tasks you agree to do.

This is why meetings have action points or ‘minutes’.

Here is a template for taking action points in your group.

Make sure the meeting note-taker, or secretary, has time to write everything down and then writes up and circulates the minutes as soon as possible after the meeting. It’s easiest to use a computer and email to do this.

The first item on the next meeting’s agenda should always be a report back on what has been achieved since the previous meeting.

Title of Meeting: Date:
Names of the people at the meeting  
Names of the people who couldn’t come  
Report back on what people agreed to do at the last meeting  
Agenda item 1
(Summarise here)
Actions agreed
Who’s leading:
What needs to be done:
When does it need to happen:
Who should help:
Success looks like….
Agenda item 2
(Summarise here)
Actions agreed
Who’s leading:
What needs to be done:
When does it need to happen:
Who should help:
Success looks like….
Agenda item 3
(Summarise here)
Actions agreed
Who’s leading:
What needs to be done:
When does it need to happen:
Who should help:
Success looks like….
Agenda item 4
(Summarise here)
Actions agreed
Who’s leading:
What needs to be done:
When does it need to happen:
Who should help:
Success looks like….
Any other business
(Items which were not on the agenda)
Actions agreed
Who’s leading:
What needs to be done:
When does it need to happen:
Who should help:
Success looks like….
Agree the date, place and time of the next meeting  

Deciding Achievable Actions

This is an activity to help your meeting decide achievable actions.

Work together on big sheets of paper and complete the flow diagram using words and/or pictures.

Discuss whether your plan is SMART

S Specific – it can be clearly define
M Measurable – any change that happens can be measured
A Achievable – it is possible for you to do
R Realistic – it can be done with the resources you have available
T Time-bound – it can be done within the time available (for example, in one term)

If what you plan to do is not SMART think again about your plan again and make it SMARTer. For example, you’d like to organise a benefit concert with Taylor Swift. However, this is very difficult. So think about organising a spoken word event with local performers. You will achieve similar outcomes but on a more achievable scale.

It is almost always better to do something small that succeeds than something big that fails.

Navigating obstacles – Bricks and Hammers

Once you’ve agreed what action to take and checked it is SMART you will still face challenges and obstacles. Bricks and Hammers helps you to identify the obstacles and overcome the challenges.

Begin by drawing a brick wall on a large piece of paper.

Each brick in the wall represents an obstacle or challenge you face if your action is to succeed. Some challenges may be routine (for example, if you don’t know who to ask for permission to use the school hall) and others may be more fundamental (for example, if you don’t have insurance to hold an event).

Write the challenges on the bricks, one challenge per brick. Next take a set of hammers, like the one below. Each hammer represents a solution to a challenge. The hammers knock down the obstacles presented by the brick wall.

Write a solution to each challenge on a hammer and attach the hammers to the relevant bricks. Remember that a solution may involve approaching the challenges in a very different way.
When you have finished, review your bricks and hammers and agree your new action points.
Print and cut out these hammers to use in the Bricks and Hammers Activity.