meetings

How to organize effective community meetings

Community meetings are an intrinsic and essential part of modern day community living. Organizing of such community meets ups in an organized and structured manner can allow members of the society to have an interactive session rather than a dull customary meeting or an erratic /disorderly discusssions and decision Here are some recommended tips that one can use in order to organize effective community/Committee meetings in one’s apartment or housing society that goes a long way in creating a platform for extensive thought exchange leading the improvement of the whole housing community.When you have formed special committees allow the committee to come out with their ideas and never hurry them.

Have a Preset Agenda: Having a preset or pre-planned agenda is recommended before scheduling any community meeting. The preset agenda can be put up on the society notice board or sent as dedicated email to the various community members. Having such a preset agenda allows members to think and reflect on the points and come prepared with their thoughts and ideas leading to a positive idea exchange. If the point of discussion is introduced in the meeting itself, chances are that not many people would hit upon unique and innovative solutions or ideas to tackle the problem at hand.

Don’t Mix Business with Pleasure: A cardinal sin committed by a lot of community meet ups is to mix serious discussions at social events. A dedicated society meeting not only brings a sense of professionalism, but also allows members to be prepared with the agenda under discussion allowing free flow of thoughts and ideas.

Have a Time Bound Discussion: In this day and age of fast paced life, long meetings can deter society members to actively attend and participate in the discussions. Having a time bound session pre decided considering the points of discussions not only make the meetings short, but also deters members from time wasting by exploring formal welcome address and long lectures.

Focus on the Main Agenda: One of the common mistakes overlooked by most organizing members is to digress from the main agenda. While a social interactive session can help build bonds between new society members and the management team, it is imperative to focus on the main agenda. The longer the meeting is dragged; chances are that members might not be interested in interactive discussions after a certain point..

Have an Interactive Session: It is the imperative of the members of the organizing committee to make all community meetings as interactive as possible . Unless there is a two way exchange of ideas and thoughts, community meetings may end up as a lecture with announcements and rules.

Create Awareness for Social Responsibilities: The role of a successful organizing community committee does not end with the meeting. Creating awareness on the agenda and the solutions discussed with all members of the housing society goes a long way in embedding the thoughts especially with the children and the elderly. Discussing informally with members of the housing society helps in creating awareness and allows all members to be a part of the overall social responsibility

Most meetings need people playing four roles

Most meetings need people playing four roles:

1-Leader convenes the meeting

2-Facilitator keeps discussion and decision-making process moving along

3-Recorder takes notes on paper, laptop or on flip charts

4-Timekeeper reminds leader when time almost up for a given item.

Make sure these roles are assigned prior to a meeting

Leader role

The leader convenes the meeting and takes responsibility for communication before and after. The leader may lead discussion on all items or may ask others, including a facilitator, to lead all or parts of the meeting. This enables the leader to be a full participant in discussions.

Facilitator role

The facilitator keeps the discussion and decision-making process moving along. The facilitator takes responsibility for the process, but should not be involved in the content of the meeting. A facilitator is especially useful if the leaders holds a very strong opinion on an agenda item. Having a facilitator enables the leader to be a full participant.

Recorder role

The recorder takes notes on paper, laptop or on flip charts. Meeting notes should be distributed as soon after the meeting as possible. The longer the lag, the less confidence the members have that their investment will result in action. For groups that meet regularly, the recorder is responsible for keeping previous meeting notes and agendas in one place where they can be referenced later, such as through a shared network drive or a notebook, etc.

Timekeeper

The timekeeper reminds leader when time almost up for a given item. A stop watch or small clock is invaluable

ways in which feedback is with meetings

Develop your feedback skills by using these few rules, and you’ll soon find that you’re much more effective.

  1. Feedback should be about behaviour not personality

The first, and probably the most important rule of feedback is to remember that you are making no comment on what type of person they are, or what they believe or value. You are only commenting on how they behaved. Do not be tempted to discuss aspects of personality, intelligence or anything else. Only behaviour.

  1. Feedback should describe the effect of the person’s behaviour on you

After all, you do not know the effect on anyone or anything else. You only know how it made you feel or what you thought. Presenting feedback as your opinion makes it much easier for the recipient to hear and accept it, even if you are giving negative feedback. After all, they have no control over how you felt, any more than you have any control over their intention. This approach is a blame-free one, which is therefore much more acceptable.

  1. Feedback should be as specific as possible

Especially when things are not going well, we all know that it’s tempting to start from the point of view of ‘everything you do is rubbish’, but don’t. Think about specific occasions, and specific behaviour, and point to exactly what the person did, and exactly how it made you feel. The more specific the better, as it is much easier to hear about a specific occasion than about ‘all the time’!

  1. Feedback should be timely

It’s no good telling someone about something that offended or pleased you six months later. Feedback needs to be timely, which means while everyone can still remember what happened. If you have feedback to give, then just get on and give it. That doesn’t mean without thought. You still need to think about what you’re going to say and how.

  1. Pick your moment

There are times when people are feeling open to feedback and times when they aren’t. Have a look at our page on emotional awareness and work on your social awareness, to help you develop your awareness of the emotions and feelings of others. This will help you to pick a suitable moment. For example, an angry person won’t want to accept feedback, even given skilfully. Wait until they’ve calmed down a bit.

Running Effective Meetings: Preparation for Meetings

No matter how informal the meeting, preparation in advance can improve the effectiveness of the meeting itself. When planning a meeting, visualize in advance how the meeting will unfold: who will stand where, how long the presentations will last, how the meeting will be organized.

Homework
When sending materials in advance of the meeting, be clear what home work you are asking attendees to do. For example, if you send a document for review, ask for comments on specific aspects of the document – different reviewers are asked to comment on substance, design, and editorial issues. If you’ve been asked to prepare for a meeting, allow plenty of time to finish the work before the meeting starts. If you haven’t been asked to prepare, double-check with the organizer to be sure nothing is expected of you in advance. Occasionally it is necessary to ask someone to speak on a topic for which they have not been asked to prepare. Courtesy dictates that you inform the others in attendance that the person is speaking off the cuff.

Even if you expect guests to prepare for the meeting, bring enough copies of the agenda and of the handouts for everyone who attends, along with notes from the previous meeting if applicable.

Arrangements
Choose a meeting location that suits the occasion – right size, convenient location, appropriate technological capabilities, proper ventilation, space to hang coats, etc. Then, make sure the room is outfitted with the appropriate amenities and equipment to make the guests comfortable and the meeting effective.

Tables and Chairs
There should be enough room for everyone to sit down and spread out at the conference table. It is a show of courtesy and respect not to make guests bring their own chairs to a meeting. For a large meeting or conference, it may be necessary to arrange with facilities professionals to provide sufficient chairs. Investigate lead times for such services as soon as you know you will be organizing a meeting.

Atmosphere
If the room is cool at the beginning of the meeting, it will warm up to a comfortable temperature as the meeting unfolds. Check lighting, including dimmer switches. Practice dimming the lights and covering the windows for audiovisual presentations. For a larger meeting, be sure the speaker is well lit and visible from the back of the room.

Accommodations
Make sure all guests are fully able to participate: the room is accessible by wheelchair, interpreters are present, and other disabilities are accommodated.

Sound
Test all microphones and amplification equipment before guests arrive. Stand in various parts of the room to be sure the sound is neither echoed nor muffled. Check battery levels on cordless equipment.

Supplies
Arrange for flipcharts and markers, notebooks, pens, sticky notes, pencils, nametags, podiums, projection screens, video equipment, and other materials required by the speakers. If the meeting is off site, it may be worth bringing your own meeting supplies if you are unsure about the venue.

Note Taking
One person should be responsible for keeping an official record of the meeting. Designate that person in advance. Formal meetings may call for an audiotape record. Use video sparingly, for example at conferences and shareholders’ meetings. Video makes the tenor of the meeting more formal and may discourage participation.

Refreshments
If guests are coming in from outside the organization, refreshments are in order. Order bottled water and a variety of other drinks and food that is easy to eat without spilling or leaving crumbs. Decide in advance what restaurant will supply lunch to avoid unnecessary discussions, and take into account your guests’ dietary restrictions when reviewing menus. Regular work meetings may not call for food and beverages.

Breaks
Give attendees a rest approximately every 90 minutes. Some meetings may need only 5- to 10-minute breaks. If refreshments are served, a 15-minute break is typically needed. As the meeting breaks, say specifically what time the meeting will resume to ensure that everyone returns promptly.

Interruptions
If the room has a telephone, make sure it is set to “Do Not Disturb.” If necessary, post a sign on the door saying a meeting is in session. Let support staff know what types of interruptions are permitted

Helping People to Contribute Effectively During Meetings

There are many reasons for non-participation during meetings including lack of preparation, shyness, being overawed by rank or someone’s specialist knowledge, being put off by another’s aggressiveness or dominant behaviour or just pure laziness.

To draw out the silent type and protect them from intimidation it might be helpful to ask questions that tap their expertise, praise their good ideas, openly note their contributions, call on those that are shy or junior first.

Of course you may also have to limit the long winded. This can be done by setting the ground rules at the start including how long any one person can speak for at a time. You should also request that remarks be confined to the topic of discussion. If someone still insists on an opera length speech you may have to tactfully but firmly insist that you move on.

It is equally important to remain focused on the agenda and what needs to be achieved. To do this you will want to summarise progress and remind everyone of the meeting’s objectives. You will also have to interrupt if the discussion gets out of hand, off topic, too heated or rowdy. Act quickly if a serious disagreement arrises.

Sometimes a participant may have something worthy to contribute but may not be the best public speaker. At such times it is the chair’s job to rescue that person by helpfully summating what they think he/she was trying to say.

As the meeting chair you should work to encourage diverse points of view, especially if it is a problem solving or brainstorming session. Well run meetings enable a group of people to achieve more than the sum of their individual efforts, through the creation of synergy and the combination of their collective expertise.

As the chair you should encourage all opinions and perspectives to be explored but be prepared to hightlight bias and oversights. Some participants will need to broaden their viewpoints while others must be encouraged to be more realistic.

To generate ideas you may want to try brainstorming, asking open questions (ones that cannot be simply answered by yes or no), encourage partial ideas, reserve your own ideas until the end, clarify and paraphrase for others (make sure you ask them to confirm that you have it right), and the use of verbal and non-verbal reinforcement.