Facilitate More Productive Meetings


Credit professionals can gain valuable knowledge and information from well-run meetings whether they be industry trade groups, or just brain-storming sessions with other business professionals. In order to get maximum benefit from a meeting, certain care, planning and executing the meeting should be taken in order to reduce the chances of it degenerating into a non-productive session of bickering or off-topic discussions. Those that tuned into an NACM audio teleconference March 12, 2007, learned how they can steer clear of meeting disasters and increase their chances of holding a productive and positive meeting.

Susan Fee, a licensed professional counselor and executive business coach, conducted the audio teleconference. She specializes in helping clients build strong personal and professional relationships by developing effective communication skills. An author of publications that offer tips on better communications and conflict resolution, Fee’s past clients include NACM, Motorola, United Airlines and Disney.

"What you allow is what you teach," Fee said. This advice is the foundation of her quest to discovering how to best conduct successful meetings that precisely direct people to the issues which the meeting was intended to address in order to produce positive results for all involved. It is the facilitator’s job to ensure that a meeting runs efficiently and effectively. First of all, it is important to determine when a meeting is necessary. "People complain about too many meetings," Fee said. "If the situation can be covered by a memo, then a meeting is not required." She also suggested determining who needs to be at a meeting. "The fewer people who are there, the more that will get done."

Fee laid out a step-by-step guideline for the planning, execution and follow-up of a meeting. She gave very specific advice that included many details, any one of which could derail a meeting if not executed properly. For example, she pointed out that it is essential for the facilitator to start the meeting on time. Otherwise, it will set a bad precedent for others as far as keeping within the time frame of the meeting. Fee offered tips on getting the meeting participants to feel comfortable and more likely to all participate in the discussion. "An ice breaker of some sort may help," she said. "It could be just introductions or something fun." Fee also gave tips on how to facilitate lively debate and differences of opinion without it degenerating into acrimonious disagreements. "Conflict is where new ideas come from." However, she added, "You need to intervene when the conflict gets the group off-topic." Fee also gave tips on how to steer problematic meeting participants into a more productive and relevant mode of discussion.
Source: Tom Diana, NACM Staff Writer, and Susan Fee

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