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One of the most important and occasionally challenging aspects of holding a group meeting is making sure that everyone has a voice, that every attendee has the opportunity to participate and be involved. In the video on budgeting time within a meeting I showed you how you can divide the remaining time evenly between the attendees. Once attendees begin speaking, it's the meeting leader's responsibility to ensure that everyone else is attentive and listening.
If one attendee is speaking out of turn when it's another attendee's time to speak, the leader should gently suggest that they listen. An easy way to do that without calling out someone in particular by name is saying "let's give Susan our full attention." Usually, just by saying that it's enough to help attendees stop whatever side conversations or activities that may have drifted into the course of the meeting. It's also the leader's responsibility to make sure that the person uses only the amount of time allotted to them.
On the other hand, each attendee has the responsibility to be prepared and to use their time wisely. That's why prior to the meeting every participant should bring their group task list, the list of things that they want to discuss during that meeting. If, as the person speaking, you find that you have a long list, you're going to need to move very quickly through that list--either that or you may need to have a separate conversation with each person. Try to keep your comments to items that applied to the group as a whole.
You don't necessarily need to cover every item in the group meeting, only those things where collaboration or coordination with the group is necessary. You can have private, one-on-one conversations, or even exchange emails on items that don't affect the group of whole. If you'd like to brainstorm ideas briefly with other members of the group, now would be the time to do this. Ask for brief responses to a specific question. Listen respectfully to each suggestion.
Write down what they say and say" thank you" for each idea, regardless of whether or not you agree with it. After the meeting is over, when you're processing, you can either discard ideas or contact people to discuss those ideas in greater depth. Also, keep in mind that it may not be necessary to use the full time that's given to you. If you can say everything that needs to be said in a shorter amount of time then go ahead and pass on your extra time to the next person.
No one has ever complained about someone else using less than their allotted time or about a meeting getting out early. Finally, if as you're speaking someone makes a commitment to you to do something, make a note to yourself to follow up with that person. Even though there's a note taker and the leader in the room who will make notes of that commitment, it's ultimately your responsibility to follow up with someone who makes a commitment to you. So in summary, keep track of the commitments that you make and keep track of the commitments that others make to you.
When everyone has a voice and everyone uses their time wisely, your meetings will be very productive.
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