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What are the pitfalls of running a meeting? What advice would you give to a new manager about running a meeting? (Focus on modals: should, could, ought to, need to + simple form) Recycle vocabulary + linking words

[modifier] Advice

Here are some tips you could use to avoid the pitfalls of running a meeting. First, you should have an agenda and send it in a timely maner. Sometimes, that means one day before, sometimes it means a few weeks, depending on the nature of the meeting. Doing so, the meeting participants will know what the topics are. And of course, the agenda must meet the goal of the meeting, which is the second and most important point.

The objective of a meeting must be explicitly stated at the beginning. Is it to take a decision? To give information? To be on the same page? Etc. This way, at the end of the meeting, you can clearly know if you have reached your goal or not.

After the goal of the meeting is stated, and if the number of participants is small enough, say 20, you could do a round table. This way, each participant can introduce themselves. If people are coworkers, you don't need to do this, since they probably already know each other. However, this can take some time, so you need to take it into account in your meeting schedule.

At all times, you ought to stay open to participant's comment. But, at the same time, you need to stay focused on the topic and underline any comments that may be out of line. This is certainly the hardest part of running a meeting: staying open but firm when you need to.

Finally, at the end of the meeting, in addition to confirming that you reach the goal stated at the beginning of the meeting, you ough to continue with a follow up. Most of the time, it takes the form of a list of actions. You may want to be sure that every action is assigned to someone (or a group).

[modifier] Pitfalls

When starting a meeting, participants often arrive a few minutes late. How should you manage this? As the leader of a meeting, you should keep the participants informed of what your decisions are. You could either say to you will wait 5 minutes, or that you will start right away because the key stakeholder are present, or that you report the meeting. The main point here, is that participants are aware that the chair has the meeting agenda in hand.

Nowadays, technology plays an important role in meetings. Most often, it is used to take part remotely to the meeting, either via phone or video. However, usage of technology is prone to delay the beginning of the meeting: the setup can be complicated, especialy for video conference. One thing one could do to prevent any problem is to test the setup in advance. If you can be in the meeting room a few minutes before the meeting, you can start the video conference in advance and wait for the remotely people to log in. In top of that, if you are doing this for the first time, asking for help from an experienced user might be a good idea. In any case, you should expect this kind of delay and be prepared to have a backup solution. Phone is the most simple replacement solution. Having done this, you will make sure that everyone can participate in the meeting, even if they are not on the premises.

Another situation that you need to be aware of, is how to behave when there is tense discussion between two people or groups. While this situation is unusual, hopefully most meetings are devoided of strong tension, it is important to be prepared to handle this situation. First of all, if you are aware in advance that a meeting can lead to a tense situation, you can ask before the meeting for help from the other participants. You can talk with these participants, tell them about your fear, and ask their opinion about the outcoming of such situation. This could help to ease the tension in meeting, since some participants would(?) be aware of it and help in resolving any issue. If you are not aware in advance, you can always describe what you are seeing at the moment the tension starts to raise. Stick to the facts and to your personnal observations: do not give intention to anybody (anyone?). Doing so, people involved will recognise what they are seeing and experiencing, giving room for proposing a solution, post-poning any issue, or even tempering their opinion.

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