How to Run Effective Meetings: Leadership Expert Tips

How to Run Effective Meetings as a School Leader

Meetings are a fundamental aspect of effective school communication and collaboration within and between teams. Not all meetings are created equal, and poorly run meetings can be counterproductive and waste valuable time. To ensure your meetings are productive and impactful, let’s explore some insights from leadership books and incorporate relevant leadership quotes to guide you in running effective meetings. I watched the following video as part of my NPQML School Leadership course.

Ann Herrmann-Nehdi – Leadership Tips for Better Communication

4 Tips to Communicate With a Diverse Audience in Your Meeting

This is a video that I could have used before being a middle leader. The key point is reflecting on what and how you want an audience to hear something, what are the key words and ideas they must buy into to remain engaged and so as not to have wasted everyones time. By doing so, you can elevate the impact of your meetings and drive success for your team. Ann Hermann-Nehdi suggests that to effectively communicate with a diverse audience, you must provide context and personalise your message. She suggests that:

  • Key to effective communication is understanding that everyone has different communication styles and preferences.
  • To ensure your message reaches all audience members, provide context that they can relate to.
  • Personalise your message to make it more relevant and engaging to each individual.
  • Preparation is important to ensure your message is clear and concise.

1. Prepare with Purpose

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin.

Firstly the meeting must have a purpose not just be a meeting for the sake of it, clearly define its purpose and desired outcomes. Determine whether a meeting is truly necessary or if the objectives can be achieved through alternative means, such as email or collaboration tools. Prepare an agenda that outlines the topics to be discussed and the time allocated for each item. Share the agenda with participants in advance, allowing them to come prepared and contribute effectively.

Before you even begin to write a presentation think about the timing. What else is going on that may be distracting the audience. Are you launching a new initiative in the middle of assessment time? Is it too soon after implementing a previous project? Are teachers still working on something?

2. Set the Tone and Engage Participants

“Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge.” – Simon Sinek.

I have written about the Simon Sinek book “Leaders Eat Last” and how it applies to school leadership before. As the meeting leader, it is essential to set the tone and create an inclusive and engaging environment. Start the meeting by acknowledging each participant and their contributions. Encourage active participation by asking open-ended questions and inviting diverse perspectives. Make sure to listen actively to foster a collaborative atmosphere where everyone feels valued and heard.

3. Manage Time Effectively

“Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.” – Peter Drucker.

Time management is crucial for running effective meetings. Begin and end the meeting on time to respect participants’ schedules. Allocate specific time slots for each agenda item and stick to them. If a topic requires further discussion, consider scheduling a separate meeting to delve deeper without derailing the current agenda. Additionally, use time tracking tools or timers to ensure discussions remain focused and on track.

4. Encourage Open Communication

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw.

Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful meetings. Encourage open and honest dialogue among participants, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to contribute. Foster a safe space where diverse viewpoints are respected, and encourage participants to build upon one another’s ideas. Use active listening techniques, such as paraphrasing or summarising, to ensure full comprehension and avoid misunderstandings.

5. Foster Decision-Making and Accountability

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer.

Meetings should drive decision-making and establish accountability. Clearly define action items and assign responsibilities to individuals or teams. Encourage participants to propose solutions and reach consensus on important matters. Document decisions and action items in meeting minutes, which will serve as a reference for future follow-up and accountability.

6. Evaluate and Improve

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard.

Continuously seeking feedback and evaluating the effectiveness of your meetings is crucial for improvement. After each meeting, solicit feedback from participants to identify strengths and areas for improvement. Adjust your meeting strategies accordingly to address any concerns or suggestions. By embracing a culture of continuous improvement, you can ensure that your meetings become increasingly effective over time.

7. Effective Presentations in Meetings

If you are going to the trouble of presenting on something make sure it is something you yourself believe in and understand. Make you are certain of the facts and be very clear on the intended outcome. By incorporating all four quadrants of the whole brain model, your presentation will be successful. Your presentation will then be meaningful and the audience will want to listen and engage. You want buy-in from your team. Even if it is something they have little control over. If you are despondent and unclear then you will just leave all unsure and the impact of any project will be wasted or take longer.

The following is an outline of a presentation I delivered that was well received and led to sustained school improvement in a subject area. It was created and delivered in order to gain support for subject leader observations. I wanted to get people to look forward to the process and understand the outcome.

  • Context – I started by outlining the reasons for doing them, how they tied into the bigger curriculum changes. This could have been more “bigger picture”
  • Agenda – I didnt really include an agenda slide but split the presentation into clear sections.
  • The Content – This contained the process we would follow.
  • Engage the audience – Just about I think, the feedback was positive and they have now been completed I need to gain peoples thoughts on how they went. I can happily present with powerpoint but as my career as progressed I use it less and less. In fact the more powerpoint I use the less I understand the subject. Below is the only visual I used during the meeting.
Effective Meetings: School Presentation Quote

Effective Meetings: Conclusion

Running effective meetings requires careful planning, strong leadership, and a focus on meaningful engagement. By incorporating insights from leadership books and leveraging relevant quotes, you can enhance your meeting facilitation skills and create a positive and productive environment. Remember to prepare with purpose, engage participants, manage time effectively, encourage open communication, foster decision-making, and continuously evaluate and improve.

How to Run School Meetings Effectively: Leadership Expert Tips

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