Chaos and Disorder at a Meeting: A Guide to Running a Successful Meeting

Picture five students crowded in the corner of the Rutgers Student Center Food Court, screaming at each other in a strange language you do not understand. This is what the meetings of one of the organizations I am a part of have come to. As I was sitting there, watching this take place, I could not understand how a group of students who had worked so hard in the past two years to create the organization could become so unwilling and unable to run the meetings in a more productive and efficient manner.

georgian

First Official Meeting of Georgian Society of Rutgers,
October of 2012

Although I believe that there are deep underlying issues that the organization needs to work on, running the meetings in a more effective  manner can still be achieved.

chaos

Current Meetings:

If I had to come up with one word to describe the way the meetings within the organization are run, it would be chaos. The current meetings do not have a specific structure they follow. The leaders in the organization are not very good at coming up with specific topics to discuss. Further, even when certain topics do get discussed, there are no solution that all can agree on.

Another issue with the way the meetings are run is people’s inability to listen to each other. Every person in the organization has his/her own ideas and everyone is so set in their own beliefs that they are unable to put those ideas aside for a few minutes to see each other’s perspectives. This leads to a group of people who all want to voice their own opinions, however no one is willing to listen.

Listen Vs. Ignore - Toggle Switch

Characteristics of a successful meeting:

I think that one of the most important things an organization needs to do in order to run a successful meeting is be more organized. Generally, I feel that having a set agenda with a long “to do” list is unproductive to the organization; however, having nothing is also hurtful. Organizations should have a general guideline for what the organization is trying to accomplish, what events are planned for the near future, and how to accomplish those goals. This would ensure that the organization has some sort of a guideline while allowing individual creativity to shine.

Another important aspect of the meeting is to ensure that all members of the organization learn to listen. Listening is not an instinct we are born with. Rather, listening is a skill we acquire through years of practice and patience. Therefore, it is important to teach members of the organization that before any plans for events can move forward, it is important to listen to each other during the meetings. After the members have listened to each other, they must put themselves in each others shoes and see where they are coming from. Still, all members may not come to agreement on every issue, which is not a problem as long as they have listened to each other and evaluated the ideas thoroughly.

time

Finally, the length of the meeting must be kept short, sweet, and to the point. Although it is difficult to get through most meetings in 30 minutes, it also cannot take more than two hours. It’s simple! Imagine yourself stuck in a meeting for two hours and you still feel like close to nothing was accomplished. Some people choose to stop participating at a certain point and it may be a few people who are still engaged, but most of that involves arguing about the same issue that may never be solved. Therefore, it is essential to keep meetings to around one hour.

The video above discusses the issue of how to run a successful meeting. I agree with most of what the video says is necessary. The idea of having one leader who is in charge and almost dictates all decision making is, in my opinion, constricting to the individuality and creativity of the members of the organization.

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