For those chairing business meetings the following are my top 10 tips :
1. Get all the key stakeholders represented at an appropriately senior level.
2. Communicate a clear agenda and outcome expected from meeting in advance.
3. Agenda should be finite and capable of being covered in the time available.
4. Set a time limit for meeting and stick to it, unless there is a compelling reason for continuing and all are in agreement.
5. Chair effectively – Ensure that everyone present contributes/stop individuals dominating discussion. Play back discussion at the end of each topic to make sure that everyone is in agreement.
6. Be sensitive to body language and what is being said ‘between the lines’ ?
7. Be flexible – if direction of meeting changes redefine objectives during meeting e.g. defer discussion of some issues to another meeting.
8. If issues come up which do not require general discussion take them ‘off line’ e.g. as a follow up point/next step from meeting.
9. Agree clear actions and next steps at end – what? by whom? by when?.
10. There should be timely circulation of minutes after meeting, plus opportunity for attendees to comment on content before finalization.
Attendees are entitled to expect that meetings will be run efficiently. For example, papers circulated in advance (be selective) should be taken ‘as read’ unless there is particular reason for a presentation.