Thursday, 21 May 2015

10 tips to make the most of meetings!

Harry Dodds offers his top ten tips to help you make the most of meetings.

Okay meetings are no one’s idea of a good time. Most are held after school when you’re feeling frazzled. But these platforms for discussion are essential for all concerned. And for NQTs they’re a vital part of the learning curve.
Here are our top ten tips to help you make the most of meetings.
There will be an agenda for most meetings and you should receive a copy of it beforehand. Always try to read it in advance. Remember that every item offers you a chance to learn something new, so draw on your expertise and research the background so you know what your colleagues are talking about.
2 Find out what kind of meeting you’re attending. It is a briefing or a presentation, or is it a committee meeting in which you’ll work as part of a team. Or is it a brainstorming session for generating new ideas that can be turned into best practice?
3 Be an active listener, ask questions and seek clarification. In a committee meeting, try to keep the discussion moving forward at a steady pace – always aim to be economical, summarise and explore implications. Be an expert and share your unique expertise. NQTs are supposed to be au fait with current theory.
4 If you are recording the minutes, use the agenda as a framework so you don’t miss any of the items. Record the names of the chair and other participants – a plan of the seating might help you with this. Don’t record all the details – a format that captures the main points and who will be responsible for what will usually suffice.
5 If refreshments are available volunteer to serve them to those present – it will give you a chance to speak to everyone.
6 You probably won’t agree with everything you hear in staff meetings, but stay calm. At this point you re still feeling your way into a close-knit group, so be patient and hear others out. Try not to react on the basis of right and wrong – keep asking yourself what you can learn from what is being said. Stay with the facts and keep the emotions under wraps as far as possible. Make judgements on the basis of whether you think proposals will succeed in your workplace.
7 Remember that staff meetings serve social as well as professional purposes. They can help with team building, but they can also give you – the newcomer – a very valuable insight into group dynamics, shifting alliances and perhaps hostilities between colleagues. Be vigilant at all time sand watch people’s body language. Remember that you are also trying to establish your identity within the team. Be modest, though suitably assertive when you need to be and always how what you are willing to learn and contribute.
8 Be aware of your own body language – it can say more about you than any words you say. Smile and make plenty of eye contact.
9 In full staff meetings try to sit in the middle of the room. The disaffected tend toward the back, the attention seekers to the front – as in a typical classroom
10 Offer to take on some of the proposed tasks – but stick to the manageable ones and don’t get swamped.


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