You can follow all the guidelines for holding an effective meeting, but things can still go wrong. The best way to handle problems is to prepare ahead of time and to intervene at the right moment to get things back on track.
- Think about the attendees. Is there a windbag in your group? Ask him to focus his comments on a particular aspect. A constant critic? Have the person lead part of the discussion. Someone with a habit of being late? Give her a job to do during the session.
- Make sure everyone has a turn. If one person is hogging the conversation, walk closer and closer to him. This draws group attention to you and away from the speaker. Thank him and call on someone else.
- Don’t be afraid of silence. Allow silence for one minute – people might need time to process. Ask if you should clarify something, or if there’s an issue people are avoiding. Take a short refocus break, or if people seem worn out, reschedule.
Adapted from Running Meetings (20-Minute Manager Series).