During the meeting
Facilitate or Participate?
So far you did everything perfect. You have a solid meeting purpose, found the right people and sent out the invitations including agenda and all meeting materials days before the meeting. No kidding, you are on the right track to a successful meeting. Only one small detail left... the meeting!
Most meeting organizers are also participants and although you want (and maybe need) to participate, someone needs to chair or facilitate the meeting. There are so many things that can go wrong even with a carefully planned meeting that you will have to find the right balance between facilitating (making sure that everything goes as planned) and participating.
The first step to leading successful meetings is to realize that chairing meetings is a skill that needs to be trained and developed. Here are 3 basic rules to get started:
Rule #1: Be prepared
Read as many articles, tips and tricks on chairing meetings as possible and get very familiar with the subject. The more you know about meetings the better! Not all tips seem very useful but someday, something might come in handy!
Rule #2: Don't be afraid to make mistakes
As Albert Einstein once said: "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new". Don't be afraid to try out new things from time to time. The only way to get experience with something is to actually do it.
Rule #3: Evaluate
After each meeting, evaluate what went well and what didn't. You can even ask the participants for direct feedback during or at the end of the meeting. Make notes so you can get back to them later. Your next meeting will be better!
If your full participation is required during the meeting, ask (or hire) someone else to facilitate the meeting or at least ask someone to keep an eye on the clock so you can make it through the entire agenda.