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Practice Management – Seven tips to lead an effective meeting

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We've all been in one. The meeting that degenerates into an incessant drone, with everyone except the meeting leader asking themselves why they are here. Then there's the meeting that becomes a one-man show. And my favourite: the meeting that ends with an agreement to have another meeting.

Time management is becoming one of the burning issues for GP practice managers. Meetings are essential to discuss objectives, conduct team training, share best practices, and update on current health issues. Meetings are used to plan strategy for CQC inspections, and help review and improve patient care packages.

In this article, we'll look at why meetings go awry, and suggest seven tips to lead effective meetings.

Why are so many meetings ineffectual?

There are several reasons why meetings fail in their objectives. The most common include:

1. A lack of purpose

Meetings that drag on tend to lack purpose. You haven't set the objectives beforehand.

2. The chair has too much responsibility

If you're chairing a meeting and also responsible for notetaking, ordering refreshments, and making sure the electrical equipment is all functioning correctly, you're probably doing too much.

3. The meeting degenerates into a free-for-all

If your meeting degenerates into a free-for-all, where people speak over each other or splinter into two and three-person cliques, then you haven't set any ground rules beforehand. You may not be using the right people at the right times. Think about asking people to take responsibility for parts of the meeting.

4. Lack of relevance to attendees

If you're running a meeting in which people lose interest and are constantly checking emails, then you've probably got the wrong people there or the content is not relevant to them.

5. No action points and no follow-up

If you come to the end of a meeting and find that there are no action points and no follow-up, then you've started out with an inadequate set of objectives. The meeting may also have lacked direction.

6. Meetings have become boring

If there's a lack of productivity from your meetings and people seem disinterested, you may be suffering from repetition. Mix things up a little. A change of scenery could work wonders, or asking the team to set the agenda.

How to lead effective meetings

Here are seven steps to leading more effective team meetings:

1. Meet only if needed

Is it really needed to get together? Could there be a less time-consuming method of communication?

2. Make sure only the people who need to be there are invited

Ensure that the people in the meeting will have something to contribute, because they are needed. Ensure that the content is relevant.

3. Be clear about expected outcomes

Let attendees know what you (and others) should expect to get from the meeting.

4. Make action points the focus

Ensure that action points can be taken on-board. People hate to leave meetings with nothing to do, so before the meeting ends, make sure you run through what is now expected of everyone.

5. Make action points readily accessible and monitor them

Set up an Intranet page where meeting attendees can review their action points and update progress to date.

6. Don't break your promises

Holding others to account begins with holding yourself to account. Make sure you keep up your end of the bargain, or others will neglect their obligations.

7. Halve the number of meetings you attend

Review your diary weekly, and free up time to do other things by nixing meetings that are not relevant to you.

Do your meetings achieve their objectives? Are they open and honest, and encourage people to take part? Do people walk away knowing what their next steps are?

eSupplies Medical is a trading name of Williams Medical Supplies Ltd, a DCC business