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10 Dec

Six Meeting “Must Says”

meeting image

When I got married, my mother told my husband there were three phrases that would make me happy and that he should say every day:

  • “Honey, you look great.”
  • “I love you.”
  • “Let’s eat out or order in.”

Here we are almost sixteen years later and it turns out, it was sound advice.

Having spent 20+ years in meetings as an attendee, a facilitator, an organizational consultant and a coach, here are my recommended “must says” to anyone leading a meeting:

  1. “Thank you” for taking the time to be here and for [be specific].
  2. “The reason that we are meeting today is. . .”
    • Macro Context:  What is the project that the group meeting is working on or is this a regular meeting as part of a management team, staff or board?
    • Micro Context: What is the stated purpose of this specific meeting? What is the main thing to be accomplished? Is this an update meeting or are you responding to a problem or issue or trying to take advantage of an opportunity?
  3. We have X amount of time. We will end on time.” All meetings must start and end on time.
  4. Here are the specific outcomes that we need to achieve during this meeting.” At the end of this meeting, what do you need to have done – reached a specific recommendation or decision, shared out work to date or research, solicited input, prepared for a presentation or conference etc.? Provide an overview of the agenda. Every single meeting must have an agenda. No agenda, no meeting.
  5. “I am going to facilitate our meeting and want to create a parking lot for issues, ideas and comments that come up but we don’t have time to explore in -depth or are not germane to our agenda.” People need to know not only who called the meeting but who is the facilitator. To keep to the topics at hand, all meetings should have parking lots that you can refer to and follow-up on at a later date.
  6.  “Here are the next steps from this meeting. . .” At the end of the meeting, the facilitator or leader should recap the action items that result from the meeting and who specifically is responsible for what by when.

What other key phrases are important for meeting leaders to say? Do you have a template for your meetings? If not, save time and mental energy by creating one using these key phrases. Try these six “must says” at your next meeting and let me know what you think.

Nanette Fridman, MPP, JD, is founder and principal of Fridman Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, financial resource development, governance and coaching for values-driven organizations and leaders. She is a frequent speaker, trainer, workshop presenter and facilitator. Nanette is the author of “On Board: What Current and Aspiring Board Members Must Know About Nonprofits & Board Service.”

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