Meetings can be defined as gatherings of people for a particular purpose. Meetings provide a forum for one or more people to exchange ideas, share information, debate theories, and collectively agree on courses of action. They can, if planned, organized, and run correctly, be a useful organizational tool that achieves effective results.
Meetings can also be held to set goals and objectives for teams and workgroups, resolve conflicts, solve problems, propose and evaluate changes/ improvements, report on new work processes, etc.
Effective meetings can also contribute to relationship building, a better understanding of others in the workplace, and improved communication. They can help employees better understand their own jobs and their role in the big picture goals of the organization. They can help build a sense of shared responsibility and team spirit.
Meetings can be face-to-face—with all attendees physically present, or they might make use of technology—electronic conferencing; video or teleconferencing, chat rooms, etc—electronic communication lines and equipment can be set up so that meetings and real-time discussions between people at different locations can be held.
Purpose of meetings
In business organizations, meetings are an important vehicle for personal contact. In large organizations, it is often in meetings that people have their only personal contact with people from other sections of the organization.
Before a meeting can take place the purpose should be clearly identified. Determine why the meeting needs to be held and what it is intended to achieve. If there is no clear purpose or identified outcome, there is no reason to hold the meeting. Meetings held for the sake of holding a meeting are a waste of time and resources.
Identify the major points of discussion or topics to be covered in the meeting. This will help determine the type of meeting to be held, the people who should participate, and the format of the meeting.
In general terms purposes for holding meetings include:
Meetings can be held to:
- Give information/ instructions to attendees.
- Develop new concepts or ways of doing things by encouraging employee input.
- Plan what needs to be done, who will do it and where; and when and how it will be done.
- Report on the unusual or unexpected work situation.
- Acknowledge and recognize the good work of a team or individuals.
- Provide information about policies and procedures.
- Introduce change ideas and consult with employees.
- Report on health and safety matters.
- Provide updates on legislation that affects workers and the workplace.
- Report on community projects in which the company is involved.
- Develop budgets and forecasts for the upcoming financial year.
Information exchange at meetings can serve to:
- establish and clarify performance needs for the day/ week/ month
- reinforce safety requirements and procedures
- review performance
- improve performance
- monitor progress
- pass on new information, eg changes to safety legislation or requirements
- motivate and enthuse people
- enable managers to mobilize support or resources and break down hierarchical barriers
- address issues related to processing faults or system inadequacies
- introduce new continuous improvement strategies and measures
- vote, either by show of hands or formal ballot, on issues and concerns
Options for meetings
- Face-to-face – is generally considered the best option. Where strong feelings and emotions are involved in the meeting content, participants are able to feel they have been heard. The more participants are involved in the meeting the easier goals can be met and satisfaction levels achieved
- Teleconferencing – Teleconferencing allows for participants to be involved in meetings no matter their location around the globe. A drawback though is the preclusion of the appreciation of body language to make clear understanding of words and emotional content difficult
- Web-conferencing and the use of webcams – Web conferencing has all the benefits of teleconferencing, yet allows all participants to view body language, facial expressions, and real-time physical feedback. It is a cost-effective “virtual” meeting that applies the same principles as face-to-face meetings, no matter the geographical location of participants